As the demand for blood transfusion products runs high, supplies continue to decrease due to lack of donations and ever-increasing surgical needs for the precious commodity.
The New York Blood Center has been providing blood and their services to hospitals and the 22 million people in the tri-state area for 50 years.
According to the blood center, the usual requirement of 2,000 people to give the gift of life decreases in the summer due to vacations and high school and college students not in classes. They supply 25 percent of its donations.
Harvey Schaffler, the blood center’s executive director, said the summer is a time when the supply dwindles when that population is out of school.
“The students that make up a significant portion of blood donations during the school year are less than available so we lose an important part of our supply and then our overall supply tends to suffer,” Schaffler said.
The demand for blood is strong throughout the year and can even go up during the summer. As a result, supplies for particular types of blood are strained. Every three seconds someone in the United States is in need of a blood transfusion.
“Truth is, every day there is what I call private tragedies where there is my family member, your family member every day being treated for different types of cancer, or undergoing surgery, or newborns who might have be some problem, blood disorders and car wrecks that can happen in the next 20 minutes or other kind of accidents that randomly happen but are very predictable as well,” Schaffler explained.
The Blood Center estimates only about two percent of the entire population donates blood.
There are four major blood groups— A, B, AB, and O. Group O can donate red blood cells to anybody. Any of the four can be type, negative or positive depending o the presence of a substance called the Rh factor.
Donated blood is tested for type, since the recipient must receive a compatible blood type. O-positive is the most common blood type but O-negative is compatible with any recipient.
O-negative type blood is especially important in trauma situations in hospitals where there is rarely any time for blood typing. Hospitals know that they can transfuse O-negative type blood with virtually any patient.
Although most people do not donate blood annually, the blood center said it wants donors with more regularity. Like many organizations., the center urges people to put a blood donation on their calendar annually at a physical exam or dental appointment.
To Schaffler, failure is not an option and reaching out to the public to remind them to donate blood is an option when the amount of donations curve to a potential danger.
Nearly any human who weighs least 110 pounds and is between ages 17 and 75 can donate blood once every eight weeks at places such as hospitals and places of worship.
For blood drives in Queens, call 1-800-933-BLOOD.