PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As the American Red Cross faces another month of the continued critical blood shortage, the organization’s Chief Medical Officer has urged the public not to give up on donating — even if there are no immediate appointments available.

“The level of the shortage is the worst we’ve seen in well over a decade, and it poses a risk to patient care,” said Dr. Pampee Young, the chief medical officer of biomedical services with the American Red Cross.

Young said the nonprofit has struggled to meet hospital demand and distribute enough blood to satisfy the needs of patients.

The lack of donations — exacerbated by inclement weather and the recent COVID-19 surge — has forced doctors to consider who will receive transfusions and who will have to wait, she said.

“We’re really running into difficult decisions around patient care that really no physician wants to be in a position to make,” Young said. “We’re seeing a lot of postponement of surgery and certain ones absolutely can’t be postponed.”

Young urged the public not to be discouraged by a lack of donation appointment availability. She said staffing shortages and COVID-19 safety measures have limited the organization’s ability to offer appointments – but the need remains dire.

“I just want to emphasize that the need for blood is constant, we can’t stockpile it,” Young said. “If you can’t find an appointment today, tomorrow or next week, please make that appointment a month out.”

“We will need you a month out,” she added. “That unit will be important in saving someone’s life.”

The organization is ‘looking at all opportunities’ to help add pop-up donation events and more appointments as the shortage continues, according to the chief medical officer.

Eligible donors can download the American Red Cross app, visit their website or call 800.733.2767 to find the nearest blood drive location and set up an appointment.