At the height of the Omicron surge in January, the Red Cross declared its first ever blood crisis.
At one point, many hospitals moved to crisis standards of care, and some are still struggling.
The Red Cross calls it the worst blood shortage in over a decade. It reports a 62% drop in college and high school blood drives because of the pandemic.
Student donors made up about a quarter of donors in 2019. The winter Omicron surge combined with flu season and winter storms compounded an already difficult situation and caused more blood drive cancellations.
Now it’s causing the industry to get creative. In some countries, organizations capitalized on social media outreach to recruit more donors.
And that includes getting more young donors on board to replace a population that’s aging out of the donor pool.
The need hasn’t gone away. And unlike many things in the pandemic, this is something people can help with.
"The good news about this shortage is that we can control us as humans so we can control this," says pathologist Dr. Nicole Finke. "Each donation can save up to three lives."