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'Blood is being used faster than blood is being donated' | National blood crisis impacting patient care

The American Red Cross says blood supply is the lowest in more than a decade. Making a donation takes about an hour of your time and comes with incentives for donors

TOLEDO, Ohio — The Red Cross is facing a national blood crisis. It's the worst blood shortage in more than a decade. 

RELATED: Red Cross declares 1st national blood crisis; says donations urgently needed

In recent weeks, the Red Cross had less than a one-day supply of critical blood types.

"Doctors have been forced to make some difficult choices about who receives blood transfusions and who needs to wait until more blood products are available," Jim McIntyre, with the American Red Cross of Northern Ohio, said. 

It's why the American Red Cross is asking you to roll up your sleeve. The process takes about an hour. First, you have to schedule an appointment online. 

WTOL 11 photojournalist Eric Honisko stepped up to the plate by making a donation. When he got to the donation center, he checked in and read through some paperwork. 

"You'll be asked some personal history, questions about your health and where you've been. Just to make sure you're eligible to donate," McIntyre said.

Behind closed doors, Eric also had a mini-physical checking his vitals and iron level to be sure he was healthy enough to donate. 

Then it was time for the actual blood draw. 

Just minutes later, Eric had successfully donated a pint of blood, which can save up to three lives. 

Then it was time for the snack in a waiting area, where you're monitored by staff after your donation as a precaution.

The Red Cross is thankful for donors as blood has a shelf life and can't be stockpiled. The organization says the pandemic has prevented many people from donating and there are fewer blood drives for those willing to donate.

"Blood is being used faster than blood is being donated," McIntyre said.

If you'd like to donate, the phlebotomist recommends drinking plenty of water in the days leading up to the donation and eating a good meal just before. 

"It feels good being able to give back to people who need it," Eric said.

There are incentives to donate. Until Jan. 31, you'll be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a getaway to the Super Bowl.

You'll also be entered to win a home-theater package and a $500 e-gift card.

You can find a blood drive near you at this link here.

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