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St. Louis Red Cross center reschedules donors during critical blood collection period

American Red Cross has seen less than a one-day supply of critical blood products in recent weeks nationwide.

ST. LOUIS — American Red Cross locations across the country including in St. Louis have experienced the worst blood collection shortage in ten years, according to the non-profit.

On Monday, 5 On Your Side learned the South County Blood and Platelet Donation Center was forced to close Sunday after a few employees got sick and had to be sent home.

The text message pinged about two dozen phones from staff letting donors know they would have to reschedule to give blood.

"Just like everybody else, we're going through it. It's cold and flu season. We still have some challenges obviously due to COVID. That wasn't the case with these cancellations this weekend," said Joe Zydlo, communications director for the Missouri region.

On top of staffing issues, American Red Cross has seen less than a one-day supply of critical blood products in recent weeks countrywide, officials said.

"We've really struggled to sort of get back to what you call very comfortable rates having that five-day supply nationwide, but right now we have emergency shortages," Zydlo continued.

The very thing that saves the lives of car crash victims, cancer patients, those with blood disorders or even COVID-19 related illnesses is stretched beyond measure.

The Red Cross said doctors have had to make decisions about who will receive transfusions or have to wait.

A statement from the non-profit read "Blood cannot be manufactured or stockpiled and can only be made available through the regular kindness of volunteer donors."

A spokesperson for the non-profit added the following:

"Like many employers across the country, the Red Cross is having to adapt its operations due to the current surge in COVID-19 cases. We appreciate the patience of our dedicated donors and blood drive hosts in the coming days and weeks during this difficult time for our country. If a donation appointment is not immediately available or a blood drive is moved for various scheduling reasons, please schedule for the next appointment; the need for blood continues to be significant as the pandemic persists."

The organization asked for patience as they work through pressures from the pandemic and plead to donors to reschedule and do their parts during the difficult time.

"I think you or someone you love would want to have that blood available for procedure and not have delays which could potentially impact someone's health," Zydlo said.

The St. Louis Blues will team up with the Red Cross to host its 15th annual Blood Drive to help out with the shortage on Jan. 20 at nine locations from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. 

Donors can walk away with a Blues shirt and a chance to win Superbowl tickets.

Those looking to contribute blood can schedule a donation appointment, visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or download the Red Cross Blood Donor App.