Doctors and patients are facing tough choices because of the national blood crisis

A phlebotomist tends to a blood donor during a blood drive. There has been an increase in the need for blood products due to the rising number of organ transplants.

Jon Cherry is a photographer.

Dozens of hospitals and trauma centers across the country say they're in dire need of blood donations after the American Red Cross called a nationwide blood crisis.

The Red Cross said in a statement this week that the dangerously low blood supply levels are posing a concerning risk to patient care, and that medical staff will have to make difficult decisions on who to give blood to and who to wait until more blood is readily available.

The Red Cross has had to limit blood product distributions to hospitals because of a lack of critical blood types.

Up to 25% of hospital blood needs are not being met. The H1N1 has contributed to a drop in blood drives at schools and colleges.

"Winter weather across the country and the recent surge of COVID-19 cases are compounding the already-dire situation facing the blood supply," said Dr. Baia Lasky, medical director for the Red Cross.

The Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles County had to close its doors for a couple of hours earlier this week because of the blood shortage, which has not happened in more than 30 years.

Hospitals will be limited in the number of surgeries they can perform without adequate blood supply. The current surge in blood donations will likely result in delays and canceled surgeries, according to the county's health services director.

If the county doesn't immediately reprioritize the current blood supply to trauma centers by blood banks across Southern California, more of them could be forced to close down in the coming weeks.

Blood donors are harder to get in Mississippi, according to officials with Mississippi Blood Services. Many patients are being told to wait because of the dip in donated blood.

We need to see anywhere from 200 to 250 donors a day. The director of donor recruitment for MBS said that they are currently seeing about 100 to 150 donors.

Hospitals in other states are being impacted by the blood crisis.

The Red Cross needs blood donors of all blood types, but particularly those with Type O, to make an appointment now to give in the weeks ahead. It's looking for volunteers to help out at blood drives and transport blood products.

National Blood Donor Month is this month and the Red Cross is partnering with the National Football League. Those who donate blood, platelets or plasma will be entered into a drawing for two tickets to the upcoming Super Bowl in Los Angeles, as well as a home theater package and a $500 electronic gift card to watch the game at home.

Rachel was involved in this report.