Commissioner Novello Urges New Yorkers to Donate Blood to Address Blood Supply Shortage

ALBANY, June 14, 2004 — New York State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., today urged all New Yorkers to help save lives by donating blood. Dr. Novello’s announcement coincides with World Blood Donor Day and the federal government’s new campaign, "Donation Nation," launched today by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy G. Thompson in response to blood supply shortages experienced by communities nationwide.

Dr. Novello said, "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 tragedy. New York State, like many states across the nation, is facing a chronic blood supply shortage. To address this problem, I am urging all healthy New Yorkers to donate blood this week and throughout their lives."

As part of a statewide campaign, the State Health Department is urging state employees who are able to donate blood to do so at least twice each year.

"The Red Cross remains steadfast in our commitment to providing hospitals with the safest possible blood products they need to care for patients," said Ann Saunders, chief executive officer of the American Red Cross Blood Services, New York-Penn Region. "But, we cannot keep this commitment alone. We need the help of generous volunteer donors in our communities to give blood to ensure a stable blood supply."

An estimated 60 percent of New Yorkers are eligible to give blood, but only about four percent donate annually. National statistics show that someone receives a blood transfusion every two seconds and that approximately 80 percent of the population in the United States will need a blood transfusion in their lifetime.

To meet patient needs, the American Red Cross, the New York Blood Center and blood banks throughout New York State continually work to maintain a minimum three-day supply of blood for all types.

Those residents living in upstate counties who wish to donate blood are urged to contact the American Red Cross at 1-800-GIVE-LIFE or, while residents in New York City and on Long Island may contact the New York Blood Center at 1-800-933-2566, or their local hospital to donate.