(HealthDay News) — The American Red Cross is pleading for donors as it grapples with its worst blood shortage in more than a decade.

The organization supplies 40% of the nation’s blood supply, but has had to limit blood product distributions to hospitals, and some hospitals may not receive 1 in 4 blood products they need.

The agency cited a number of factors behind the blood shortage crisis. There has been a 10% decrease in overall blood donations since March 2020 and a 62% drop in college and high school blood drives due to the pandemic. Student donors accounted for about 25% of donors in 2019, but for just 10% during the pandemic. Not only that, but there are ongoing blood drive cancellations due to illness, weather-related closures, and staffing shortages. Other factors include a surge of COVID-19 cases and an active flu season, according to the organization.

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“At a time when many businesses and organizations across the country are experiencing pandemic challenges, the Red Cross is no different,” the agency said. “We are all learning how to live in this new environment, how we spend our time, where we work, how we give back, how we make a difference in the lives of others — donating blood must continue to be part of it.”

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