PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
January 09, 2012

Mary E. O'Dowd, M.P.H.
Commissioner

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

State Health Commissioner, NJHA President Attend Hospital Blood Drive
Call for More Donations, More Workplace Blood Drives

Health and Senior Services Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd today joined New Jersey Hospital Association President and CEO Betsy Ryan and Virtua CEO Rich Miller at a blood drive at Virtua Memorial in Mount Holly to encourage more people to donate blood and more employers to hold blood drives to ease the state's chronic blood shortage.

 

The need for blood donation is especially critical in January, just after the holidays when vacation schedules, poor weather, and colds and flu result in fewer donations.

 

"Nine out of 10 people will need blood at some point in their lifetime," Commissioner O'Dowd said.  "People can donate in a variety of ways: At a workplace blood drive, at a community blood drive, or at the nearest blood center or hospital collection site."

 

New Jersey hospitals often have less than a two-day supply of blood, which is necessary for cancer patients, organ transplants, trauma care and surgery. When blood collections are insufficient to meet demand, New Jersey must import blood from other states. The state is the highest net importer of blood in the nation, importing nearly 50,000 units in 2010.

 

"New Jersey hospitals need blood every single day, but there are some days where blood supplies in New Jersey reach alarming lows." said. New Jersey Hospital Association President Betsy Ryan. "When that happens, our hospitals may be forced to ration blood. With a limited blood supply, emergency procedures receive priority and elective surgeries would be curtailed. In extreme shortages, some procedures may need to be canceled, and emergency departments would have to divert patients."

 

Sixty percent of the state's adults are eligible to donate blood, but only 3.6 percent do, below the national average of 5 percent.

 

Most people in New Jersey can donate blood if they are in good health, at least 16 years old, and weigh at least 110 pounds.  Giving blood is easy.  It takes less than an hour.  A single unit of blood donated in the course of an otherwise routine work day can save up to three lives. 

 

"Employers can help improve New Jersey's blood supply by encouraging their employees to donate blood during National Blood Donor Month and by planning a schedule of blood drives for the entire year," Commissioner O'Dowd said. "It's a meaningful way for businesses to give back to their communities."

 

Virtua CEO Miller said the "three reasons most people give for not donating blood is that it is inconvenient, they were unaware of the need and no one ever asked them to donate. Workplace blood drives enable employees to donate without leaving the office.

 

"At Virtua we encourage our employees to donate blood and we schedule workplace blood drives at all of our locations on a regular basis. Our employees are grateful for the convenience and are happy to support this important effort to benefit those in need."

 

For information on how to donate blood or how to plan a blood drive, visit www.njsave3lives.com.