A Call to Arms!
We 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 of 2002.
One 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 transfusions.
What 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.
Each 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 travel.
What 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.
It's About Life!
Dennis M. Todd, Ph.D.
President and Chief Executive
Community Blood Services
About Us
Blood Donations
Cord Blood
Clinical Services