TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The American Red Cross has declared a national blood crisis as the country faces a historic blood shortage – the worst in more than a decade.

The organization declared the crisis on Tuesday. According to The Hill, it’s the first time a national blood crisis has ever been declared.

In recent weeks, blood centers across the country have reported less than a one-day’s supply of certain critical blood types. The Red Cross is pleading with communities across the nation to donate blood and platelets immediately.

If the nation’s blood supply does not stabilize soon, life-saving blood may not be available for some patients when it is needed.

The Red Cross said the dangerously low blood supply levels have forced some hospitals to defer patients from major surgery, including organ transplants.

There’s been a 10% overall blood donation decline since March 2020 when the pandemic began. The Red Cross said this is because of a decline in donor turnout, blood drive cancellations and staffing challenges. This has forced doctors to make difficult decisions about who receives blood transfusions and who will need to wait until more products become available.

The Red Cross supplies 40% of the nation’s blood supply but, because of the shortage, it’s had to limit blood distributions to hospitals.

In the U.S., more than 16 million units of blood and blood products are transfused annually with more than 45,000 units needed daily.

If you would like to donate, you can schedule an appointment:

The American Red Cross and the NFL are also partnering this month, which is National Blood Donor Month. Anyone who donates between Jan. 1 and Jan. 31 will automatically be entered to win two tickets to Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles, California. The winner and a guest will get two tickets to Super Bowl LVI, entry to the official NFL Tailgate, tickets to Super Bowl Experience, round-trip airfare to Los Angeles, three-night hotel accommodations from Feb. 11 through Feb. 14, plus a $500 gift card for expenses.

If you would like to contact the Red Cross of Tampa Bay, click here.