2003-01-18 / Community

Blood Emergency Declared

Blood Emergency Declared

Due to an alarmingly low inventory of blood throughout the metropolitan area, Long Island Blood Services, a division of New York Blood Center, has issued an emergency appeal for blood donations effective immediately. Blood shipments to local hospitals have already been reduced by 50%, which can result in surgery cancellations and emergency room closures.

Donors are urgently needed and are asked to call 1-800-933-BLOOD (2566) to schedule an appointment at one of Long Island's convenient donation centers, located in Lake Success, Rockville Center, Mineola, Melville, Bohemia and Port Jefferson. Donors can also call this number to locate an upcoming blood drive at which they can donate.

All Rh Negative blood is well below the minimum 5-day supply required to adequately serve area hospital patients, with O Negative blood (which anyone can receive in an emergency) at a less than one-day supply, explains Dr. James Louie, Executive Director of Long Island Blood Services. "This crisis has already forced us to cut distribution of O Negative blood to area hospitals by 50% with even deeper cutbacks looming."

On average less than 2% of the eligible people in New York donate blood compared to the nationwide average of 5%. "Our community has long lagged behind the rest of the nation but today we are in a real crisis. Blood is perishable (red cells last 42 days and platelets just 5 days) and requires daily replenishment. We simply need more volunteer blood and platelet donors," Dr. Louie points out.

Blood inventories often dip after the winter holidays when people are preoccupied with travel and celebrations or experiencing colds and flus. And this year also saw two storms over the Christmas-New Year's period. Yet, Long Island Blood Services faces additional challenges as its long-standing European blood import program, known as Euroblood, ended late last year, which has eliminated 25% of the metropolitan area's blood supply. "We have seen a dramatic drop-off in donations this year that has climaxed within the last weeks when donations were 70% behind the required level. We simply cannot meet our vital, life-saving mission and ensure quality health care delivery without an adequate blood supply," Dr. Louie says.

Long Island Blood Services is a division of New York Blood Center, the nation's largest community-based non-profit blood collection and distribution organization. Long Island Blood Services has been providing life-saving blood products and services to 30 hospitals throughout Nassau, Suffolk and Queens for close to 40 years.

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