Call to Arms!
have all come to expect that if we or our loved ones need
blood in an emergency situation it will be available.
But as less and less blood is being collected and more
and more is needed, that's not always the case. And it
certainly won't be the case as we approach the summer
reason is because the FDA is imposing new blood donor
deferrals in regards to European travel, effective May
31, as a result of mad cow disease, even though there
is no documented evidence to support the concern that
mad cow disease can be transmitted to humans through blood
does this mean to us? In the short term we can expect
to see longer and more severe blood shortages, which will
inevitably result in the cancellation or postponement
of elective surgeries and, ultimately, in lives being
lost when adequate quantities of blood are not available
during emergencies. In 1999, New Jersey needed to collect
920 pints a day for transfusions, or 6,455 a week, and
that figure has been climbing every year since.
year nearly 150,000 pints of blood are imported into the
New York metropolitan area from Europe. When the new FDA
deferrals go into effect that blood will disappear from
our hospital shelves. That represents 12,500 pints lost
per month - 2,885 pints per week, or 410 pints per day.
To make matters worse, it is expected that 10% of the
regular blood donors in our region will be permanently
deferred due to the new FDA measures governing European
we need now is a call to arms, and we can't afford to
wait. Every able member of our community needs to roll
up his or her shirt sleeve and donate blood. Because blood
is good only for 36 days, stocks must be replenished on
a regular basis. And despite some common misconceptions,
freezing and storing is not an economically feasible alternative.
Each year 4.1 million Americans would die if blood weren't
available. We cannot continue to gamble with the health
and welfare of our families.
M. Todd, Ph.D.
and Chief Executive