As executive director of Long Island Blood Services, a division of New York Blood Center, I am appealing to you and your readers to donate blood to help their friends and neighbors this summer. The current blood inventory in our area is dangerously low and significantly less than the five-day supply needed to adequately serve some 42 hospitals in Long Island/Queens regions - not to mention the additional 178 hospitals we serve in other NYBC territories. Even worse, the current supply shortfall is expected to last throughout the entire summer and could grow more severe if donations do not increase. Deliveries of blood to area hospitals have already been reduced and could be reduced further, creating a very real health crises in our communitt.
The demand for blood is rising due to several factors including an aging population, an increase in cancer diagnoses requiring aggressive chemotherapy with transfusion support, and an increase in sophisticated medical and surgical procedures such as transplant operations. At the same time, I am sorry to report, fewer than 2 percent of eligible area residents (less than 1 percent in New York City) donate blood compared to five percent in the rest of the nation.
As a result of this supply/demand gap, which is historical, we have been reliant of imported blood from elsewhere in the US and abroad for 30 percent of our need. Our ability to purchase important blood and blood products, however, has been reduced. I feel certain residents of Long Island and Queens are willing to support their community by "Give Blood. Save a Neighbor." - to borrow a line from our recent advertising campaign.
I urge anyone eligible to donate blood to call us toll-free at 1-800-933-BLOOD (2566) to make a donation appointment at one of many permanent and mobile donation locations in our area. Walk-in donors are also welcome. Donating blood takes less than an hour, includes a free mini-medical exam and literally can make the difference between life and death for thousands of men, women and children daily.
Linda E. Amper., Ph.D
Executive Director/Vice President
Long Island Blood Services