As hospitals resume patient care at full capacity, need for blood has rebounded but donations have not.
New York Blood Center (NYBC) is issuing an urgent call for healthy blood donors to schedule an appointment at one of its 19 donor centers or mobile drives across New York and New Jersey. The need for blood has rebounded to pre-COVID-19 levels, but the blood supply is dangerously low. In order to maintain a safe blood supply, a seven-day inventory of all blood types must be continually replenished. Right now, reserves are far below that minimum.
Before COVID-19, mobile blood drives hosted by schools,organizations, and businesses made up about 75% of the region’s incoming blood supply, but all drives had to be cancelled beginning in March due to the pandemic. At that time, NYBC was able to sustain the community blood supply through donations at its donor centers, but only because blood utilization sharply declined as hospitals stopped elective surgeries and stay-at-home orders were in place. In June, NYBC began safely holding a limited number of mobile blood drives each week, but they are far from the 600 drives per month required to meet the need at area hospitals. Most large organizations that typically host blood drives during the summer have not reopened and still have most employees working from home.
Compounding the typical summer decline in blood donations is the challenge of donors not showing up for their appointments 20 percent of the time. Because we are scheduling appointments to allow for social distancing, we cannot make up for those precious missed donations with walk-in donors. The blood center urges donors who schedule to keep that commitment to save lives as long as they are feeling well and healthy on the day of donation.
“The blood supply is a critical part of our healthcare system. It is imperative for healthy individuals to come in and donate blood so that it’s available to those in need,” said Andrea Cefarelli, Senior Executive Director Recruitment and Marketing. “At this unprecedented time, this is one thing you can do to help someone who desperately needs it. We have extended hours at our donor centers and we’re encouraging donors to schedule an appointment to visit one of these controlled,safe environments.” NYBC extended hours and days of operation at its 19 donor centers to increase the availability of appointments for donors, with plenty of capacity to handle existing donors coming to the centers and much-needed new donors who want to join the cause of saving lives in their community.
Donating blood is safe and it only takes one hour. We are taking extra precautions to help prevent the person-to-person spread of COVID-19. NYBC staff are also practicing health self-assessments prior to presenting at work. As always, people are not eligible to donate if they’re experiencing a cold, sore throat, respiratory infection or flu-like symptoms. Additional information on donor eligibility and COVID-19 precautions is available here.
Donors can schedule appointments by calling 1-800-933-2566 or visiting www.nybc.org.