On Feb. 18, The New York Blood Center had an ‘Emergency Blood Shortage’ drive at York College where they asked students and staff to roll their sleeves up and rebuild the community’s blood supply.
The blood drive event came not too long after Mayor De Blasio stated New York City’s blood supply has been experiencing shortages in recent weeks due to cancellations resulting from severe weather conditions.
On Jan. 28, the mayor encouraged more New Yorkers to donate blood in a public statement, saying “I urge healthy New Yorkers to help us rebuild our blood bank and set aside less than one hour of their time to donate blood, you can help save lives.”
According to officials, blood donations tend to decrease tremendously during the wintery weather since people are more likely to stay indoors.
The demand for blood transfusions is continues to increase as the population is grows. Many advance medical care procedures and surgeries rely on blood banks to supply the needed replacement blood. Illnesses that rely on blood transfusions include cancer, burn injuries, traumas and emergency surgeries. Other everyday occurrences also rely on blood donations including mothers delivering babies and accident victims.
According to the New York Blood Center, every three seconds someone needs a life-saving transfusion and one out of every ten persons entering a hospital needs blood. The Blood Center say that one pint of blood can help save as many as three lives.
York College psychology major, Sayeed Shirshir donated blood at the drive. He said that everyone should donate blood if they are capable of doing it.
“It’s a good thing and people need blood,” Shirshir said. He said that he has been encouraging his family and friends to donate blood as often as they can. “I tell them all the time, donate blood, people need it,” Shirshir added. He said that he plans on donating blood again in six months.
Andrey DeCruiz-Tong, team leader for the New York Blood Center drive at York during the event, claimed that so far the blood donation turn out has not been persistent at their blood drives.
The weather this time of the year also plays a part in the shortage. Due to the wintery weather, snowfalls and shutdown in public transportation and roads, it lead to a mass cancellation of blood drives in New York. One of the last times this was a major issue was in 2012 during Superstorm Sandy. The New York Blood Center estimated 3,000 scheduled donations had been cancelled.
“We reach out to the community and we try to encourage the community, schools and colleges to donate blood because we are in a very difficult situation here right now, we’re very short of blood,” DeCruiz-Tong said. “The most we can do is go out there and try to encourage people to donate.”
For an estimated 5 percent of patients, they need to find blood that is an even more specific match and lacks certain antigens that the patient has developed antibodies against.
Nancy Nikolis, the Administrative Director for Transfusions at the North Shore University Hospital said there has been a shortage of O negative blood type in their hospital.
“O negative is one blood type that we are on low levels right now,” Nikolis said.
Nikolis said they have a sufficient supply for all other blood types, but O negative still remains an issue. She added that they do their best to obtain O negative blood transfusions for patients who urgently need it.
“We’re just trying to manage it to the best we can,” Nikolis said.
North Shore University Hospital, Jamaica Hospital and New York Hospital Medical Center are some hospitals in Queens that receive blood from blood services.
According to the Red Cross, on an average they must collect 15,000 blood donations every day for patients at 2,700 hospitals and transfusion centers throughout the country.
Blood can be safely donated every 56 days and individuals can give platelet every seven days, up to 24 times a year. Persons who are 17-years-old and weigh over 110 pounds and are generally in good health may be eligible to donate blood, according to the Red Cross.
If persons are interested in donating blood, they should call (800) 933-BLOOD (2566) or visit nybloodcenter.org.