New Deferral Policies, Increased Blood Usage and Aging Population Taking Major Toll on Donor Base
Community Blood Services, in conjunction with America's Blood Centers, an international network of community blood centers that collects nearly half of the U.S. blood supply, is launching a new donor recruitment campaign entitled "It's About Life."
The goal of the campaign is to recruit new donors and encourage current donors to give blood four times a year.
"New, stricter FDA-mandated deferral policies, increased usage of blood and an aging population of donors are having a combined impact on the national blood supply, leading to an anticipated shortage of about one million pints of blood by the end of 2002," said Dennis Todd, president and CEO of Community Blood Services.
"This shortage will severely impact trauma victims, and those people who depend on chemotherapy and radiation therapy and must rely on multiple blood and platelet transfusions to survive," added Todd. "It could also lead to the cancellation of elective surgeries."
Community Blood Services, located at 970 Linwood Avenue West, provides blood and blood products to 32 hospitals in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris and Passaic counties in New Jersey, as well as to hospitals in New York City and Orange and Rockland counties in New York.
"In order to meet the current needs of the hospitals we serve, the blood center should have a minimum of a one-week supply of blood at all times, " said Todd. "Lately, we've only had a one- to two-day supply."
According to Susan Mysliwiec, the blood center's donor recruitment director, the upcoming campaign will consist of public service announcements, direct mail postcards, posters and brochures that educate donors about the importance of donating blood, how blood saves lives and where to find the nearest community blood center.
Community Blood Services and other members of America's Blood Centers are trying to recruit new blood donors to help replace approximately half of the 630,000 pints of blood that will no longer be available for transfusion when new FDA policies implemented in May and October restrict donations from donors who have traveled extensively to Europe.
About 350,000 pints of blood must be collected to meet the increased demand from hospitals performing more organ transplants, cancer surgeries and treatments, and other life-saving procedures that require significant amounts of blood.
In addition, as the U.S. population ages, many who are loyal blood donors can no longer give because they are taking medications to treat health problems such as high cholesterol, heart disease, and high blood pressure. To compensate, the campaign aims to encourage more donors of all ages to donate. Only about eight million Americans donate blood - less than 5 percent of the population.

Community Blood Services is one of approximately 70 blood centers around the country participating in the grassroots campaign, and similar efforts will be launched in local communities in more than 100 cities and towns. The campaign introduces people to blood recipients like Paramus resident Kimberly Edson, a 7-year-old with a rare blood disorder who requires blood transfusions every three weeks.

The campaign also provides the public with startling facts about blood donation:

  • nearly 4.5 million Americans would die each year without life-saving blood transfusions
  • every 3 seconds someone needs blood
  • each day 35,000 pints of blood are needed nationwide
Mysliwiec noted the campaign also educates communities about their local blood center and its affiliation with America's Blood Centers.
"Community Blood Services' mission is to meet the needs of the local community first, but to provide support on a national level when needed," said Mysliwiec.
Members of America's Blood Centers were the first to respond to national tragedies like the Oklahoma City bombing, Columbine shooting and September 11th attacks.
The largest providers of blood products and services, America's Blood Centers' members are located in 45 states and Canada, serving more than 125 million people at 450 blood donation sites. For 40 years, America's Blood Centers' members have been committed to serving the needs of their local communities by saving lives through volunteer blood donation.
Community Blood Services' center in Paramus is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Donors also can donate at other convenient sites in Rutherford, Englewood, Wayne, and Pompton Plains in New Jersey, and at monthly blood drives in Goshen, Middletown, Suffern and Monroe in New York
For more information or to make an appointment to donate whole blood please call 201-251-3703. To donate platelets, call 201-251-3733. New York residents can call toll-free, 866-228-1500.
"It's About Life."