🔴RWJBarnabas Health is pleading for blood donations this winter

🔴There is a severe shortage and it's expected to worsen

🔴All blood types are needed, especially Type O

RWJBarnabas Health is issuing a reminder to all New Jersey residents that blood and platelet donations are desperately needed to help combat a severe shortage statewide this winter.

What is contributing to the blood shortage?

The shortage was initially driven by a surge in COVID HV.1 cases, and is expected to worsen due to an annual decrease in winter donations, said Sally Wells, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) Blood Services Business Development Liaison.

The situation is chronic. People, in general, have not been as proactive when it comes to seeking out places where they can donate blood, Wells said. Also, donor recruitment and marketing of potential blood donors have become increasingly difficult since the pandemic.

Wells said she recently received word from one of the hospital’s primary blood suppliers that, effective immediately, they will begin metering the blood inventory in the Barnabas hospital.

That means they will take a look at the hospital’s historic blood usage for this period and they will then set the parameters at that number to try and make sure the hospital does not exceed it.

“If, for whatever reason, there is a critical situation or a need to increase our imports into the hospitals, then there will be an extra special effort on behalf of the hospitals to get the blood collection agencies to agree to send additional product,” Wells said.

The reason for the metering is because the blood suppliers see signs of a severe shortage coming down the pike. Wells said they want to make sure they have enough product to take care of all of the patients in all of the hospitals that they are contracted with.

Doctor holding small paper with blood donation time

Why are there fewer blood donations in the winter?

Wells said there are three key contributing factors as to why blood donations are low in the winter in New Jersey. Weather and cold and flu season are two factors.

Availability is the other because at least, from the middle of December to the end of January, most colleges and universities are closed. There is a period of one to two weeks when the high schools are also closed. Since a proportionate amount of blood throughout the state comes from these institutions, it always causes a big problem, Wells said.

“Also, throughout the winter months, as people are busy holiday shopping, prepping and seeing family, donating blood often falls off people’s to-do lists,” Wells said.

Blood Donors Making Donation In Hospital

Why are blood donations so important?

One unit of blood is about 500ml of liquid. It is then broken down into three basic components: packed red blood cells, fresh frozen plasma, and cryoprecipitate (the liquid portion of plasma), Wells said.

“One blood donation can save as many as three lives,” Wells said. People should understand that most people who receive blood transfusions receive multiple products. It’s not usually just one-and-done.

A minimum of six to eight products is the average throughout the country when it comes to someone who needs a blood transfusion. If it’s a traumatic situation, it can be up to 100 units of blood, Wells said.

Blood donation concept. Give blood save up to three lives.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

What blood types are desperately needed?

While RWJ University Hospital needs all blood types, there is a desperate need to bolster its Type O inventory, especially Type O-negative, Wells said.

Type O blood, in general, is the blood type that will be transfused most often because the population warrants more Type O than any other type, Wells said.

Type O-negative is the universal blood donor. In an emergency, where a patient’s blood type is unknown, Type O-negative can be given. That is why it is always in constant low supply.

Are there any requirements for blood donors?

Donors must be between 16 and 70 years old in New Jersey.  Sixteen-year-olds must have written parental consent to donate blood. The donor must weigh at least 110 pounds, and be in generally good health.

Donors need to eat and be hydrated before giving blood and be well-rested, if possible.


RWJBarnabas Health is hosting several blood drives:

Monmouth Medical Center
Friday, Dec. 15 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Unterberg Learning Center
300 2nd Avenue, Long Branch

South Plainfield Community
Saturday, Dec. 16 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
JFK Elementary School Multi-Purpose Room
2900 Norwood Avenue, South Plainfield

RWJUH Annual Gift of Life Blood Drive
Monday, Dec. 18 from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 28 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Arline and Henry Schwartzman Courtyard
1 Robert Wood Johnson Place, New Brunswick

Monmouth Medical Center, Southern Campus Community Blood Drive (sponsored by Bikur Cholim, The Lakewood Scoop and RWJBH)
Wednesday, Jan. 3 from 1 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Conference Center
600 River Avenue, Lakewood

Jersey Shore Blue Claws
Monday, Jan. 8 from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
RWJBarnabas Health Champions Club
2 Stadium Way, Lakewood

Saint Peter's University Hospital
Tuesday, Jan. 9 from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Sister Maria DiPazzi Conference Center
254 Easton Avenue, New Brunswick

Jersey City Medical Center
Thursday, Jan. 11 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Conference Room 5, Main Floor
355 Grand Street, Jersey City

Community Medical Center
Tuesday, Jan. 16 from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Auditoriums A & B
99 Hwy, 37 West, Toms River

New Brunswick Islamic Center - Gymnasium
Saturday, Jan. 20 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
1330 Livingston Ave, North Brunswick

First Baptist Church of Keyport
Wednesday, Jan. 24 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
45 Main St, Keyport

Robert Wood Johnson Rutgers Medical School
Tuesday, Jan. 30 from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The Great Hall
675 Hoes Lane, Piscataway

To schedule an appointment to donate blood, visit here.

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