State Health Commissioner to Donate Blood today to Highlight Need for Blood Donations

January is National Volunteer Blood Donor Month

ALBANY, N.Y. (Jan. 3, 2008) – State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., is donating blood today at 10:30 a.m. at the American Red Cross blood center at 33 Everett Road in Albany to highlight the urgent need for blood donors to help rebuild the low blood supplies reported across the state. January is recognized as National Volunteer Blood Donor month because blood supplies are typically at very low levels after the holidays. Many hospitals across the state may need to reschedule elective surgeries because of low blood supplies.

"Donating blood can really make a difference at times like these, when blood supplies are at their lowest. Because our state's blood supplies are crucial to our ability to provide health care services, I would encourage New Yorkers to donate blood, now or any time of year," said Commissioner Daines. "Your donation may be used to save the life of a sick child, a cancer patient or a victim of a traffic accident and could save a life."

Almost 85 percent of the population in the United States will need a blood transfusion in their lifetime. Blood transfusions are administered to patients, as frequently as every 10 seconds. Healthy individuals with identification, aged 17 years or older (age 16 with parental consent) who weigh at least 110 pounds may be eligible to donate blood.

"Our supplies of some blood types are also at lower than desired levels and we have been forced to carefully monitor distribution to the Greater New York metropolitan area hospitals," explained Dr. Robert Jones, New York Blood Center President & CEO. "We need the community's support and their donations. If donations do not increase in the next two weeks, we foresee the possibility of a worsening blood shortage."

"Blood is an ongoing need," commented John Burch, M.D., chief medical officer of the American Red Cross Blood Services, New-York Penn Region. "In addition to routine hospital needs, there must be blood available to respond to emergency situations. New, dedicated donors are required to help us meet current and future needs."

To meet patient needs, the American Red Cross and other blood banks around the State continue to work to maintain a five- to seven-day supply of blood for all types. However, recent data suggest that the current supplies of all blood types are below a three-day supply. Specifically, there is now less than a one-day supply of type 'O' blood, the universal donor blood type, in some parts of the state.

The demand for blood remains constant due in part to an aging population and the increased need for blood transfusions due to the medical advances in organ transplantation, surgery and aggressive cancer treatment. To meet this demand, blood banks in New York State are continuously seeking new donors to offset the shortfall created by longtime donors who, because of ill health or other reasons, can no longer give blood.

Upstate residents who want to donate blood are urged to contact the American Red Cross at 1-800-GIVE LIFE or (1-800-448-3543). In the New York City metropolitan area, donors may contact the New York Blood Center at 1-800-933-BLOOD (1-800-933-2566).