New York's Two 'Top Docs' Donate Blood

Urge New Yorkers to Include Blood Donation in Summer Plans

New York, NY (July 11, 2008) - Setting the example they hope others will follow, today New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Richard F. Daines and New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden donated blood and urged other New Yorkers to donate to alleviate blood shortages in the Greater New York and upstate areas.

The two health commissioners donated blood at the New York Blood Center on East 67th Street in Manhattan, where blood supplies have dropped below the five-day safety level. The American Red Cross is also reporting shortages in upstate New York.

"As New Yorkers head to the beaches and make other vacation plans, please consider including blood donation in your summer activities," said Commissioner Daines. "Setting aside a few minutes to donate blood could mean a lifetime to those who need your help. The blood you donate might be used for a victim of a traffic accident, for a cancer or surgery patient, to restore an infant to good health, or to help a person with sickle cell anemia."

"Keeping blood donations flowing in the summer can be challenging," said Commissioner Frieden. "Every time you donate blood you have the potential to help save a life. One in every three people will need a life-saving transfusion sometime during their life; the gift you give today could be returned to you down the road."

Less than 2 percent of eligible residents of New York donate blood each year compared to the nationwide average of 5 percent. The New York Blood Center, which supplies blood products to nearly 200 hospitals in New York City, Long Island, lower Hudson Valley and New Jersey, is reporting increased demand for blood while levels of donation are below expectations. As a result, the Blood Center has begun rationing certain blood types to area hospitals.

In upstate New York, the American Red Cross Blood Services, New York-Penn Region, which supplies blood products to about 130 hospitals, is reporting blood inventory levels at a two- to four-day supply.

While all blood types are needed, the New York Blood Center and American Red Cross especially need donors with type O Negative blood, the universal blood type, which is currently being rationed to hospitals. More donations from people of color are also needed to better match the needs of the city and state's diverse population.

"The New York Blood Center alone requires over 2,000 volunteer blood donations each day to meet the transfusion needs of patients in the Greater New York area," said Dr. Robert L. Jones, New York Blood Center President and CEO. "In the days following 9/11, New Yorkers lined up for blocks to donate blood. We need to see that spirit even now."

"Maintaining a strong, continuous pool of voluntary blood donors is critical to ensuring an adequate blood supply to meet patients' needs, whether for scheduled treatments or emergencies," said Kay Schwartz, CEO for the American Red Cross New York-Penn Region. "Our thanks to all who give this precious gift that is needed by so many to survive an accident or illness."

Nearly everyone between the ages of 17 and 75 weighing a minimum of 110 pounds and in good health can donate blood. To donate blood, residents in the Greater New York area can contact the New York Blood Center at 1-800-933-2566. Residents of upstate counties may contact the American Red Cross at 1-800-448-3543.

Facts

  • An estimated 60 percent of Americans are eligible to donate blood, yet on average only 5 percent do. In the New York/New Jersey community, less than 2 percent of eligible people donate blood.
  • 4.5 million Americans benefit from life-saving blood transfusions each year.
  • One out of every three people will require a life-saving transfusion sometime during their lifetime.
  • Every three seconds in the U.S. someone needs a life-saving transfusion.
  • Car accident and other trauma victims may need as many as 50 or more units of blood.
  • Much of today's sophisticated medical care (transplants, heart surgeries, prostate cancer surgery, etc) relies on blood transfusions.
  • Each donation of blood can help save three lives following component separation into red blood cells, platelets, and plasma.
  • People can safely donate blood every eight weeks.