Red Cross raffling off trip to Super Bowl, using new technology to attract donors amid shortage

21,000 fewer donations made during holiday season

The “season of giving” may be over, but the American Red Cross is still asking you to give… blood, that is.

Right now, the Red Cross says the country is experiencing a significant blood shortage. The organization collected 21,000 fewer blood donations than expected over the holidays.

The holiday travel season, coupled with the start of cold and flu season, caused the number of blood volunteers to drop well below both expectations and need.

Now, the Red Cross is in extra need of platelets, which only have a five-day shelf-life, and Type O negative blood, the universal blood type. However, the Red Cross says they are in short supply of all blood types.

While most donations typically come from adults, kids can donate, too, as long as they’re 16 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds, and have parental consent.

“What a great way to feel good and save someone’s life,” said Laura McGuire from Madison’s Red Cross. “Make it a new year’s resolution to not only go once but every 56 days. You are eligible to donate every 56 days.”

Although there is a minimum age to donate, McGuire says you’re never too old to give.

“I actually had a lady not that long ago who was 90,” said McGuire. “She was on her 100th gallon of blood. She’s been a blood donor her whole life. It really gave her some encouragement being 90-years-old knowing she was donating to babies.”

The current blood shortage is so dire, the Red Cross is raffling off a trip to the Super Bowl to blood donors from now through January 19th. Click here for more information.

The organization is also using technology to attract more donors this year. Blood donors can not only make an appointment to give on the Red Cross’ app, but now, they can track their donations to see where they end up and receive notifications when their blood is on its way to a patient.

Workers at the Red Cross hope these new features will attract younger donors and help them understand just how much of a difference they’re making.

The app also notifies donors of blood shortages, provides appointment reminders, keeps records of donors’ mini-physicals (which are done when they donate), shows how much blood users give compared to other donors, and finds local blood drives and donation centers.

“You might even have a blood drive at your school that you’re able to make it really easy and after school, just pop in,” said McGuire.

If you aren’t using the app, you can make an appointment to donate by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS. You can also ask ‘Alexa’; the “blood donor skill” is available on any Echo device.