UNITED STATES (WWTI) — On January 11 the American Red Cross declared the first-ever national blood crisis, and on January 18 the organization announced that the weather is only making the situation worse.

According to the organization, this is the worst blood shortage it has seen in over a decade, which poses risks to patient care. They said that amid this crisis, doctors nationwide have been forced to delay blood transfusions for patients.

This means that many have had to make decisions on who receives blood transfusions and who will need to wait until more products become available. This issue was magnified when winter weather affected the midwest, east, and south over the weekend.

According to a press release from the Red Cross, over 170 blood drives were canceled across the country due to the winter storms. This resulted in about 5,000 blood and platelet donations going uncollected.

To combat the issue the organization is encouraging residents to donate, specifically individuals that are located in areas that are currently unaffected by winter weather. They stressed that a single blood donation can help save more than one life.

Appointments to donate blood or platelets can be made by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, on the Red Cross website or by calling 1-800-733-2767.

The Red Cross is also seeking volunteers for blood drives across the country. Volunteers can register on the Red Cross website.