2003-08-29 / Community

Blood Drive Driven by Memories, Blackout

By Elizabeth Roth

The blackout earlier this month has caused financial problems, enforcement problems, energy problems and logistical problems for many Rockaway residents as well as those throughout the blackout area, but the most severe consequences of the electrical short circuit may well lie in the city’s health care system.

The problem: A lack of blood donations.

"We are pleading with the public!" Julie Robinson-Tingue, of the New York Blood Center, says. "We need people to come and donate. Usually, if we don’t collect enough blood, we can purchase it from other centers that have a surplus. But right now, everyone else is in a crisis as well. We can’t buy any. So whatever we collect- that’s it."

The inventory of blood in hospitals was dangerously low prior to the blackout. During the first week of July, donations were 50 percent below normal levels. Donation levels have not gone up, and the loss of blood from the shutting down of scheduled drives and blood centers during the blackout has made the problem even worse.

Robinson-Tingue explains the state of supplies qualifies as an emergency. Recommended guidelines call for a ten-day supply of blood in order to compensate for a crisis. Right now, hospitals in Queens only have a two-day supply of blood available on any given day. The blackout reduced the amount of blood on hand to a twenty-four hour supply, a much smaller supply than necessary to fill the needs in case of an emergency.

However, a local Belle Harbor and Rockaway Park group, the Graybeards, an organization formed to support the community after September 11 and the crash of Flight 587, is sponsoring a blood drive at St. Francis De Sales Church at Beach 129 Street amd Rockaway Beach Boulevard in Belle Harbor. This is not a new idea for the organization. They did the same last year and collected over 200 pints of blood for local hospitals. They would like to be able to make that at least 300 this year, more if at all possible.

The Graybeards, who mix their non-profit activities with their basketball team, are happy to help. "After the events of 2001 we decided it was time to get together and do more than play basketball." Rick Horan, one longtime member of the group, said.

The group’s president, Steve Stathis added "Last year, Rick Moran came to me with the idea as a tribute, to hold a blood drive around the time of September 11. It seemed in keeping with what we wanted to do, as a group. "

The blood drive will be at St. Francis De Sales school on Beach 129th Street, on September 14, from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m.

For further information or an appointment at 718-634-6812. To make a blood donation at your convenience, call the New York Blood center at 1-800-933-2566 or go to www.nybloodcenter.org.

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