Reprinted with permission,
Courtesy, Asbury Park Press, a Gannett Co. newspaper.
LONG BRANCH, NJ, January
10, 2007 - We're running out of blood.
That's the word from Terri Longdo, the blood bank supervisor
at Kimball Medical Center in Lakewood.
According to the American Red Cross, a five-day supply is the
optimum safe level of blood supply. As of last week, there was
less than a one day's supply of Type-O blood at the ready.
"These are critical levels for blood supplies," Longdo said. "For
a hospital patient in need of a blood transfusion, there is no
substitute for that blood — it must come from a volunteer."
January usually is a particularly difficult month to collect
blood, said Michael J. Corrigan, regional operations director
of laboratory services at Community and Kimball medical centers.
"Blood supplies drop significantly during the holiday season
and winter months," Corrigan said. "People are just busy with
other things and don't think about donating blood."
This is why the American Red Cross has long recognized January
as National Blood Donor Month and encourages healthy individuals
who are at least 17 years old and 110 pounds to donate blood
during this month and to pledge to donate blood at least one
more time during 2007.
And the definition of "healthy" is pretty broad, according to
Rich Felice, director of the blood bank at Monmouth Medical Center
in Long Branch.
"Healthy," he said, is defined as when a donor "feels well and
can perform normal activities."
Even such conditions as high blood pressure or diabetes will
not necessarily disqualify a prospective donor, if that donor
is being treated and the condition is under control.
Pat McTighe is the community relations director of the Central
Jersey Blood Center with headquarters in Shrewsbury. The mission
of the organization, she said, is to provide an adequate, high-quality
and safe supply of blood, blood products and other related services
to meet the needs of area hospitals.
January is a tough time to do that.
"Twelve percent of our blood is collected from high schools
and colleges," McTighe said, "and school vacations and holidays
cut into donations."
She would like people to know that 1 pint of blood can save
up to three lives, and that while she is hopeful that the current
crisis in blood supply may be alleviated, the battle to maintain
that supply is always fierce.
"New Jersey is a state with 8 million people, and every year
we have to import about 70,000 units of blood from other parts
of the country," she said.
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