California officials warned last week that the state is experiencing a severe blood shortage.

“While the need for blood is constant, California, along with the rest of the nation, is experiencing the most severe blood shortage in the last ten years,” California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said. 

Last week, the American Red Cross declared first-ever national blood crisis in the U.S.

The blood shortage forced doctors “to make difficult decisions” about who receives blood transfusions and who will need to wait, the Red Cross said.

The non-profit, which supplies 40% of the nation’s blood, said it has had to limit blood distributions to hospitals in recent weeks.

Some hospitals may not receive as much as a quarter of the blood products they request, the Red Cross said.

The blood shortages forced the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services to shut down the trauma center at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center for hours last week — something that hasn’t happened in over three decades.

The Red Cross said it saw a 10% decline in the number of people donating blood since the beginning of the pandemic, with especially low donor turnout beginning when the delta variant began spreading in August.

“Fortunately, there is hope in ending this blood emergency with a simple act of kindness many of us can take as individuals – blood donation,” Ghaly said.

“Donating blood is not only essential to ensuring the health of our communities, it is truly a lifesaving resource for those who need it most, including accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those battling cancer,” he added.

January is National Blood Donor Month.

The Red Cross and the NFL are partnering this month to urge people to donate. Those who come to give blood, platelets or plasma in January will be entered for a chance to win a getaway to Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles.

They will also be automatically entered to win a home theater package and a $500 gift card. More information can be found at RedCrossBlood.org/SuperBowl.

To find a nearby donation site, visit the Association for the Advancement of Blood & Biotherapies. More information about donating blood can be found at California Volunteers.