STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. - With blood donors at their lowest levels in 15 years, the Red Cross is in a state of emergency. In June, it released an appeal for more donations after receiving 50,000 fewer than expected.
Since then, the Red Cross cut its deficit by 30 percent, but many blood types -- especially O-Negative, O-Positive, A-Negative and B-Negative -- are still in high demand.
According to Donna M. Morrissey, the director of communications for the American Red Cross Northeast Division, in fiscal year 2011 -- which stretches from July to June -- the organization received more than 6 million donations nationwide. But in fiscal year 2012, the number dipped to 5.87 million.
The situation in the New York City area is not that extreme, but many local blood centers and hospitals are still urging anyone eligible to donate blood and platelets.
"At this point, the situation hasn't been critical, not yet. We haven't experienced the same issues as the rest of the country," said Dr. Edahn Isaak, the director of transfusion medicine for Staten Island University Hospital's North and South Sites.
However, Dr. Isaak said there's always a slowdown of donations during the holidays and especially during the summer. Many schools that usually host drives close for the season, and many businesses don't sponsor drives this time of year because staff members go away on vacation.
So, just because supplies are stable now, that doesn't mean donors aren't needed.
Dr. Isaak urges people to take advantage of the hospital's blood donation bus and sponsor their own drives. The hospital's north site in Ocean Breeze also has its own donor center which collects about 3,000 to 3,500 units of whole blood and about 400 of plasma per year.
Ann Marie Brown, the blood bank manager for Richmond University Medical Center, said they too have their own donor center, which annually collects about 500 units of whole blood. Even though the hospital does not have a mobile bus for sponsored drives, all are welcome to schedule an appointment on site.
While the hospital has not had to cancel any elective surgeries like hip or knee replacements recently, one bad week could limit supplies, according to Mrs. Brown.
"God forbid that something happens, we need blood in the refrigerator. There needs to be a constant supply because it's a pipeline," said Christine Dingfelder, manager of medical communications for the New York Blood Center, which provides blood units to over 200 hospitals in the metropolitan area -- including Staten Island University Hospital.
Mrs. Dingfelder said that overall supplies are strong, but that they stay strong due to continued donations.
You can't wait for a crisis to donate, she said, because the supplies need to be there before one even occurs.
The need for blood is constant
Donate blood todayJust because Island hospitals aren't in a state of crisis, that doesn't mean your help isn't needed. Donors must be healthy, at least 16 years old (with parent's written consent) and weigh at least 110 pounds. Anyone eligible should eat before giving blood and have a photo ID at the ready. Below is information about when and where you can donate:
Staten Island UniversityHospital North
Blood Donor Room, Nalitt Institute, 256 Mason Ave., Ocean Breeze.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Call 718-226-9428 to make an appointment or sponsor a drive.
Richmond University Medical Center
Blood Bank, 355 Bard Ave., West Brighton.
Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
ContactCall 718-818-3065 to make an appointment.
New York Blood Center
2791 Richmond Ave., New Springville
Mondays, 12:30 to 7:30 p.m.; Wednesdays, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Call 800-933-2566 to make an appointment or visit nybloodcenter.org to sponsor a drive.