At the Chicago headquarters for the American Red Cross, a few people sat back Tuesday and donated platelets. But the nearby beds for blood donations were empty. It's a symbol of the worsening blood shortage, which the Red Cross calls an emergency.
"This is the lowest supply of blood that American Red Cross has seen in several years, and this is something that's affecting the entire nation," said Holly Baker of American Red Cross of Illinois.
The Red Cross says they need all blood types and platelets, especially type O, because there’s currently less than a half-day supply on hand.
"When people need blood and the blood levels are this low, we're going to be seeing the shortage affect our neighbors, our friends, our family, anyone who needs blood can see the effects of this," explained Baker.
"The image I can't get out of my head is what if we have a really big snowstorm and nobody can get out to donate for two days and our hospitals could run out of blood," said Kristyn Benedyk.
She's decking out her home in Lisle with spooky decorations for a Halloween blood drive Saturday afternoon, all in memory of her sister Kim.
"It wasn't quite registering why I was decorating so much for Halloween and then I realized, oh, that was the last holiday I had with Kim before she got really sick," said Benedyk.
Kimberly Benedyk-Sandford’s dying wish was for her family to spur blood donations, which she counted on during her fight against cancer.
"It's such an immediate way to give back. We're always talking about we want to give back or we want to do things or you might know someone who has cancer and you feel helpless. This is a very direct and immediate way to change the world and to help people," said Benedyk.
Plus, donations can keep the shortage from getting even scarier.
To lure new donors, the Red Cross will offer $10 Amazon gift cards for donations starting Nov. 1 and a chance to win a trip to Hawaii.