Why NJ needs blood donors right away: 10 key facts
An emergency call for blood and platelets has been issued by the Red Cross as a result of what it says is an "extremely low summer blood supply."
The Red Cross said in a statement Tuesday that in recent months, blood and platelets are being sent to medical facilities faster than donations are being received. As a result, there's about 39,000 fewer donations than what hospitals in the region need to accommodate patients.
The Red Cross says their overall blood supply is down nationwide and the recent July 4 holiday exacerbated the situation, since many "regular" blood donors have been on vacation and unable to donate.
"A recent Red Cross poll revealed that more than 75 percent of donors surveyed indicated vacation plans this summer, many of them occurring the weeks before and after July 4," the organization said in a statement.
Beth Toll of the Penn-Jersey Blood Services Region, said the need for blood and platelets right now is urgent.
“Donations are urgently needed now to meet the needs of hospital patients in the coming days and weeks," she said. "If you’ve thought about giving blood and helping to save lives, now is the time to do it. It’s the blood donations on the shelves that help save lives when an emergency occurs.”
Every two seconds in the United States, the Red Cross says, blood and platelets are needed for patient emergencies such as accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant procedures, as well as patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.
"The Red Cross must collect approximately 14,000 blood and platelet donations every day for patients at about 2,600 hospitals and transfusion centers nationwide," the organization said in a statement.
According to the American Red Cross, the blood collection process is safe and consists of four steps: screening/donation, processing, testing, storage and finally, distribution. For donors, there are also four steps: registration, medical history and mini-physical, donation and refreshments. The entire process, including the physical, takes just over an hour but the actual blood donation only takes about 15 minutes, the ARC says.
The Red Cross said it supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood supply, which equates to approximately 2,600 hospitals across the U.S.
In addition, the Red Cross says a single donation can potentially help more than one person, since one pint of donated blood from an individual can yield red cells, platelets, plasma and cryoprecipitate.
Toniann Antonelli is a social content producer for NJ 101.5. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.