Winter Storms Cancel Drives, Lead to Critical Blood Shortage
In the midst of an unprecedented string of winter storms, New York Blood Center is urgently asking donors to roll up their sleeves to replenish the community blood and platelet supply.
Dozens of blood drives have been canceled because of bad weather. Blood drives that are continuing have experienced greatly reduced attendance, while operations at NYBC’s many walk-in donor centers are similarly affected.
“I urge residents to donate to this vital cause,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said. “So many people depend on donations to survive serious illnesses or accidents. Giving blood is an easy way to help others in need.”
To donate blood or platelets or for information on how to organize a blood drive please call toll free: 1-800-933-2566 or visit: www.nybloodcenter.org
Of the six major blood types, five are below target levels. The supply of O-Negative blood – “universal donor” blood that can be transfused into anyone in a trauma situation – is now below the minimum emergency “safety level.” Also, platelets- needed for clotting- have only a 5-day shelf life and meeting the needs of cancer patients and others who require this lifesaving blood component has been a challenge.
“While we’re confident in our ability to supply our partner hospitals, we’re still struggling with the effects of the snow and ice for the past two weeks,” said NYBC Vice President Rob Purvis. “It is critical that we all pitch in by donating blood to ensure that supplies aren’t further diminished in the days ahead.”
There is no substitute for human blood, with about one in seven hospital admissions requiring a blood transfusion. Blood is especially important for people with leukemia, other forms of cancer, and of course for trauma victims. With a limited shelf life, supplies must be continually replenished.
Three factors are combining together to prompt NYBC’s emergency declaration:
- Many blood drives have been cancelled because of accumulated or predicted snowfall.
- Many donors haven’t been able to make scheduled donation appointments due to the weather.
- Hospital demand for blood types – notably O-negative, the universal blood type because of its usefulness in trauma situations – remains high.
If you cannot donate but still wish to participate in bringing crucial blood products to patients in need, please ask someone to donate for you, or consider volunteering at a local blood drive. NYBC also offers special community service scholarships for students who organize community blood drives during summer months.
Any company, community organization, place of worship, or individual may host a blood drive. NYBC also offers special community service scholarships for students who organize community blood drives during summer and winter months. Blood donors receive free mini-medical exams on site including information about their temperature, blood pressure and hematocrit level. Eligible donors include those people at least age 16 (with parental permission or consent), who weigh a minimum of 110 pounds, are in good health and meet all Food & Drug Administration and NY or NJ State Department of Health donor criteria. People over 75 may donate with a doctor’s note.