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Supply of Blood on Shelves is Low at Community Blood Services

Summer 2012


With the July Fourth holiday just ahead and Community Blood Services already seeing a seasonal dip in blood donations, its medical director is urging all eligible blood donors to roll up their sleeves and donate blood.

The blood center, which supplies blood, platelets and plasma for patients in more than 20 hospitals in New Jersey and New York State, currently has less than a one-day supply of blood on its shelves, according to Medical Director Dr. Millicent Sutton.

“Summertime is when our supply is lowest, particularly the days leading up to and following July Fourth,” said Dr. Sutton. “More than 10 percent of our donations each year come from high schools and colleges and we have to deal with losing those students’ donations during the summer. In addition, donors are away on vacation and there are fewer corporate and community blood drives to build up the supply.”

Dr. Sutton said there has been an ongoing shortage of Type O negative blood, the universal blood type that can be used for all other blood types during emergencies like car accidents and for premature babies. Only 7 percent of the population has Type O negative blood which means the supply must continuously be replenished. In addition, Dr. Sutton said donors with types A negative, B negative and O positive blood are also critically needed.

“Imagine you or a loved one having an immediate need for lifesaving blood as the result of a serious accident or critical illness, then imagine that blood not being available. Every day blood donors make a difference in patients’ lives,” Dr. Sutton said. She said nine out of 10 people in New Jersey will need blood at some time in their lives, yet less than 5% of the population eligible to donate blood does so.

The blood center must collect about 250 donations a day to meet its hospitals’ needs, Dr. Sutton said, and must turn to other centers in the country to import blood to meet those needs when the center’s supply is low. But she said those centers are facing similar shortages at this time of the year so it is becoming more difficult to find the blood elsewhere.

Dr. Sutton said she hopes all eligible donors will consider donating in the next two weeks to help ease the blood shortage at one of Community Blood Services’ donor centers in Paramus and Lincoln Park in New Jersey or in New Windsor, New York. There are also other convenient donation sites and mobile blood drives in New Jersey and New York State, she added.

Donors can call 866-228-1500 for locations and hours or click here. They can also call that number to schedule their appointments or click here. Blood donors are welcome to walk in but appointments are needed to donate platelets at the sites at which they are collected.

Dr. Sutton said businesses, organizations or places of worship can also help ease the shortage by organizing a summer blood drive. Call 201-444-3900 to schedule a lifesaving drive.

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