Health Commissioner Novello Urges New Yorkers to Donate Blood
"When we donate blood we are giving a precious gift that may save someone's life"
Albany, August 24, 1999 – Citing concerns for a potential shortage in the number of volunteer blood donors to meet New York's transfusion needs, State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H. today urged New Yorkers to help save lives by donating blood. An estimated 60 percent of New Yorkers are eligible to be blood donors, but fewer than five percent donate annually.
"When we donate blood, we are giving a precious gift that may be used to save the life of a sick child, a cancer patient or a victim of a traffic accident." Dr. Novello said. "Giving blood is safe and easy and I encourage all eligible New Yorkers to show their compassion, commitment and concern for others by becoming regular blood donors. Let's roll up our sleeves and get to work to save lives!"
John W. Burch, M.D., Medical Director of American Red Cross Blood Services, New York–Penn Region said, "New blood donors represent the future of the community blood supply. As the generation that started the blood program in the 1940s retires from giving blood, others must step up to replace their generous spirit."
To reinforce her message, the Health Commissioner today donated blood at the American Red Cross blood donor room at the Empire State Plaza. Dr. Novello, joined by Executive Deputy Commissioner Dennis Whalen, announced that the State Health Department will kick off a blood drive on September 14. Dr. Novello urged all DOH employees, other State workers and any New Yorkers who are eligible to donate blood to follow her example.
"I'm grateful for the opportunity to donate blood today. We all should ask ourselves, what if it were my husband, wife, son, daughter or friend who needed blood? What if it were me? National statistics show that 9 in 10 people will need a blood transfusion in their lifetime," said Dr. Novello. "Making a blood donation is making an investment in life."
The demand for blood remains ever–present because of the aging population and the burgeoning need for blood transfusions due to the medical advances in organ transplantation, surgery and aggressive cancer treatment. Replacements are desperately needed for longtime donors who, because of ill health or other reasons, no longer can give blood. According to recently published reports, a drop in blood donations could result in a serious, nationwide, blood shortage by the year 2000.
People between the ages of 17 and 75, who weigh at least 110 pounds and are in general good health, may be eligible to donate blood. There is a current need for all types of blood, especially type O negative. According to the American Red Cross, donations drop throughout the summer because many regular donors are on vacation or focusing on outdoor activities and recreation. That means donations are especially needed as the long Labor Day weekend approaches. During holidays, blood needs continue at typical rates, but fewer units are donated.
All blood and blood products collected in New York State meet or exceed state and federal safety guidelines. A new sterile needle is used for each blood donation and is immediately discarded afterward so there is no risk to the donor of contracting an infectious disease.
Those residents living in upstate counties who wish to donate blood may contact the American Red Cross at 1–800–272–4543. In the New York City metropolitan area, donors may contact their local hospital or the New York Blood Center at 1–800–933–2566.