2002-08-03 / Community

Governor Announces Blood Recruitment

Governor Announces Blood Recruitment

Governor George E. Pataki is urging New Yorkers to help save lives by donating blood. A new $400,000 campaign is underway to recruit blood donors to help alleviate the blood shortages currently being experienced by blood banks in New York State.

"Making a donation is safe, it’s easy and it can save lives," Governor Pataki said. "Thousands of New Yorkers responded with concern and compassion by donating blood in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks. We encourage all New Yorkers to carry on that selfless commitment to helping others by supporting their local blood drives and sharing the gift of life."

An estimated 60 percent of New Yorkers are eligible to be blood donors, but only approximately four percent donate annually. National statistics show that 85 percent of the population in the United States will need a blood transfusion in their lifetime and that someone receives a blood transfusion every two seconds.

To meet patient needs, the American Red Cross, the New York Blood Center and blood banks around the State continue to work to maintain a minimum three-day supply of blood for all types. However, recent data suggests that the current supplies of blood for most types are below a three-day supply.

There is now less than a one-day supply of type O blood in some areas of the State. Even more critical, if blood donations don’t increase within the next two weeks, experts are saying that shortly, in specific areas of New York, there may be no inventory of O negative blood and that blood banks will be forced to release for emergencies only.

The demand for blood remains ever-present because of the aging population and the increased need for blood transfusions due to the medical advances in organ transplantation, surgery and aggressive cancer treatment. Replacements are desperately needed as well for longtime donors who, because of ill health or other reasons, no longer can donate blood.

The State blood donor campaign, which is being administered by the State Health Department, also comes as a direct result of the new federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) restrictions on individuals donating blood who lived in or visited Europe for an extended time to prevent any potential transmission of mad cow disease to an individual through a blood transfusion. Although there has never been a reported case of a person contracting mad cow disease as a result of a blood transfusion, the federal government put forth the restrictions to further ensure a safe blood supply to the United States.

State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr. P.H., said that persons 17 years of age or older, who weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health, may be eligible to donate blood. It is important to know that all blood and blood products collected in New York State meet or exceed state and federal safety guidelines. A new, sterile needle is used for each blood donation and is immediately discarded afterward to ensure the process is safe.

Highlights of New York’s 2002 campaign to promote blood donation include a statewide radio campaign to air in August, and an advertisement distributed through mailings by the State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Also, the DOH is now working with the New York Blood Center to send educators into New York City high schools to conduct lectures and seminars on blood donation and health related issues. As part of the curriculum, students will learn about the importance of blood donation and ways in which they can support blood drives at their school.

Donors may contact their local hospital or the New York Blood Center at 1-800-933-2566.

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