The New York Blood Center has issued an urgent call for all New Yorkers to donate their blood and plasma today.
“New York is in a state of a blood emergency” Andrea Cefarelli, the NYBC’s senior executive director, said in a statement as she called for donations. “We need folks to come into our centers and donate blood. It’s an easy way to help a fellow New Yorker.”
Hospitals all around New York are grappling with extreme blood shortages as a result of the pandemic and recent winter weather.
“The region’s blood supply is dangerously low and donors are desperately needed,” the NYBC says on its website.
Many locations that would have been host to community blood drives, such as schools and offices, have had to close, causing hospital blood supplies to drop dangerously low.
Additionally, many of the mobile blood centers that the NYBC used before the pandemic have been taken out of operation or are not used as regularly.
“Right now, there is a very big need for blood donation, in New York and the tri-state area — and throughout the country,” said Dr. Swathi Ratkal, dedical director of the blood bank at Nassau University Medical Center and associate director at Northwell’s LIJ Medical Center, highlighting just how widespread and urgent the demand for blood donation is.
A constant supply of blood is needed to treat all types of patients, Ratkal explained. “The red cells in the blood could be used for anyone that has trauma, anemia, or surgery. The plasma in the blood is used as part of a massive transfusion protocol for trauma victims.”
That plasma can be extracted from the blood of any healthy donor and is not to be confused with the type of plasma that is being used to treat Covid-19, convalescent plasma, Ratkal noted.
The guidelines set forth by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for who can donate convalescent plasma have been made stricter, meaning that now, not just anyone who has been infected with Covid-19 will be able to give it. The levels of antibodies in their blood must first meet a certain threshold to be considered acceptable.
Ratkal explained that because of that change in guidelines by the FDA, it is up to the blood bank to determine which donors are eligible to give convalescent plasma, by testing their blood when they come in to make a donation.
“With convalescent plasma, the picture has changed,” he said. “Previously we used to collect plasma from anyone that had recovered from Covid, but now there is a limitation. The FDA has required that only those who have a very high titer, or number of antibodies [in their blood], will be used to make plasma for patients’ treatment.”
You could be eligible to donate convalescent plasma if you had a positive test for Covid-19 in the past, have been symptom-free for more than 14 days and meet the requirements to make a normal blood donation. That is just one more reason to find a local center and make a blood donation today — you could be helping in more ways than one.
There is a particular need for donors with type O-positive and O-negative blood.
People who have gotten the Covid-19 vaccine are still eligible to donate, with no deferral period in most cases.
Donations are by appointment only and can be scheduled by calling 1 (800) 933-2566 or visitingnybc.org. You can also search for blood drives by county or ZIP CODE on the NYBC website.
More information about donating convalescent plasma is posted by the blood center at bit.ly/39udRcq.