COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Red Cross is experiencing its worst blood shortage in over a decade, forcing some hospitals to defer patients from major surgery.

With patients’ lives potentially in danger, the Red Cross is doing all it can to convince people to donate.

Both the Red Cross and central Ohio hospitals are putting out a desperate plea for blood donations, saying the nationwide blood shortage is posing a serious risk to trauma and surgery patients.

“This is across the board, the lowest the supply has ever been,” said Dr. Keshav Deshpande, a trauma surgeon at OhioHealth Grant Medical Center.

In all his years working in central Ohio, Deshpande said he has never seen demand for blood this high, and it’s starting to affect which procedures surgeons can take on.

“Deciding whether a surgery is critical to move forward with, or if it’s safe to delay that surgery a little bit further out until we know we have a better supply of blood,” he said.

The shortage has led the Red Cross and the NFL to partner together for a nationwide campaign, urging people to give blood and be automatically entered into a drawing to win a trip to the Super Bowl next month.

“We are still in a situation, though, where we need to get additional blood units on our shelves and more donations from people,” said Marita Salkowski with the Central and Southern Ohio Region of the Red Cross.

A single donation of blood can save up to three lives, which is what happened to central Ohio resident Susan Hoskinson, who went in for an annual checkup and discovered her hemoglobin levels were dangerously low.

“I didn’t realize how critical I was in my blood, but I needed two units that night and then two units after that,” she said.

Hoskinson said if doctors hadn’t caught that before she went into surgery, she may not have survived, which is why she appreciates anyone who donates.

“For somebody that has been the recipient, we are so grateful,” she said.

Like many employers, the Red Cross is also experiencing a shortage of staff, so they’re asking for patience if you schedule an appointment. To schedule a donation appointment, click here.