PORTSMOUTH, Va (WAVY) — A national blood crisis may put patients at risk. The warning from the American Redd Cross comes with a plea for donations.

Hospitals across the country are tightening the reins, with less blood on the shelf and no guarantees they’ll get a full resupply shipment.

“Now we’re in a situation where everyone really has to think twice about every unit that’s transfused,” said Dr. Daniel Munn, director of Trauma & Acute Care Surgery at Riverside Regional Hospital in Newport News.

“I think its fairly safe to say that no one practicing and alive today has ever seen a shortage like this,” Munn said.

In some hospitals, doctors are being forced to make difficult decisions about who receives blood transfusions and who will need to wait.

Click here to subscribe to WAVY’s Daily Newsletter emails.

Munn told WAVY that at Riverside, doctors are having tough talks with patients ahead of scheduled surgeries.

“And if they’re anticipating significant blood loss that we may need to postpone their surgeries or just be aware that they may not be able to get the products if they have severe blood loss,” Munn said.

The problem is the coronavirus pandemic. The Red Cross reports blood drives at schools and colleges are down 62%. The number of people donating is down about 10% overall. As COVID-19 case numbers soar, filling the seats at the few blood drives out there might be even more challenging.

“If those seats go empty because patients are afraid to show up and donate, then we are never going to recover from this,” he said.

During the month of January, the Red Cross is teaming up with the NFL. Anyone who donates blood, platelets or plasma this month will automatically be entered for a chance to win a getaway to the Super Bowl in Los Angeles.

If you’d like to donate, click here to make an appointment.