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For Release:
January 13, 2011

Poonam Alaigh, MD, MSHCPM, FACP

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

January Blood Drive Highlights Need for Blood Donations


Snowstorms and holidays have combined to lead to a critical shortage in blood donations in January, Health and Senior Services Commissioner Dr. Poonam Alaigh announced today while attending a hospital blood drive.


The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), the New Jersey Workplace Blood Donor Coalition and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) joined forces today during National Blood Donor Month to remind New Jerseyans to donate blood and ask employers to hold more blood drives now and throughout 2011.


“One unit of blood can save three lives,” said Dr. Alaigh.  Sixty percent of New Jerseyans are qualified to donate blood and it only takes ten minutes. Workplace blood drives like this one make it more convenient for people to donate on the job.”


To encourage greater participation in blood donation, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital opened their workplace blood drive to the public and encouraged those who could not attend the event to contact their local blood center or hospital blood collection unit to schedule an appointment to donate.


“As a Level 1 Trauma Center and leading academic medical center, RWJUH is critically aware of the need for a stable blood supply and supports the efforts of DHSS and the Coalition to partner with the business community to increase donations,” said RWJUH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joshua Bershad.


“The Workplace Blood Donor Coalition encourages employers to hold more blood drives to improve the state’s blood supply,” said Kevin Rigby, Vice President and Head of Public Affairs and Communications at Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, who chairs the Coalition.  “For companies, supporting blood donation is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to maintain their commitment to corporate citizenship during tough economic times.  Moreover, blood drives boost employee morale by enabling participation in a voluntary activity that saves lives.”


Mr. Rigby introduced the first online calendar to help employers and donors find blood drives open to the public throughout New Jersey.  The e-calendar lists current blood drives by county and can be found on the Coalition website,    


Donor recruitment is consistently a challenge.  Most people age 16 and older who are in good health and weigh at least 110 pounds are eligible to donate blood.  Sixty percent of New Jersey residents are eligible, yet only 3.6 percent donate on a regular basis. 


Over the past 15 years the state consistently used more blood than it collected and has had to import blood from other states.  In 2009, New Jersey used 39,826 more units of blood than it collected. 


Donations of all blood types are needed, especially O negative blood because it is rare.  People with this blood type are universal donors who can donate red blood cells to almost all the other blood types. O negative is the most preferred of all the blood types for cases involving emergencies, accidents and blood transfusion of babies and infants.


For more information about donating blood, contact your employer or local blood center.  If you are a business interested in conducting a blood drive, a blood center in your area will be able to assist you.  For a Blood Drive Tool Kit, downloadable videos and other donor recruitment materials and a list of blood centers in New Jersey go to

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