PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
May 31, 2012

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

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

Creative Partnership of DHSS and New Jersey Employers Launch Summer Campaign to Increase Blood Donation, Alleviate Shortage

Ten leading health and business groups and several top employers today joined Health and Senior Services Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd and Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. Vice President Kevin Rigby today in announcing a statewide campaign to call on more employers to host blood drives through Labor Day to help alleviate a blood shortage in the summer months.

"Blood donations always decrease in the summer as people go on vacation. The Department is asking employers to host blood drives to help alleviate the annual summer blood shortage and help save lives by participating in the campaign, called The Need for Blood Doesn't Take a Vacation," said Commissioner O'Dowd.

"The reasons individuals most often give for not donating are that they are unaware of the need for blood, have never been asked or that it is inconvenient. Employers have a unique opportunity to increase awareness of the need and make it convenient for their employees to donate," Commissioner O'Dowd explained on a conference call with members of the New Jersey Workplace Blood Donor Coalition.

The Department and Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. formed the Coalition in 2008 to increase New Jersey's blood donation rate, which at approximately 3.6 percent is below the national average of 5 percent.

Members of the Coalition have come up with some creative ways to drive up participation:

  • Rutgers University will be offering two tickets to a NY Mets game to each donor who participates in one of the blood drives it is holding on June 5 and 19 and July 10 in the Busch Campus Center, and on July 16 and August 14 at the Rutgers Student Center on College Avenue. The HealthCare Institute of New Jersey is reaching out to the 700 vendors it does business with to ask them to host or participate in blood drives.


  • The New Jersey League of Municipalities highlighted several municipal drives planned for the summer including Mountain Lakes on June 10; North Brunswick and Franklin Township in Somerset County on June 15; Denville on June 16; and Bordentown on June 25.


  • The Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey is targeting its outreach efforts to 140 top companies in the southern region of the state who have not yet hosted blood drives to ask them to participate in the summer campaign.

In addition to those efforts 400 packets of blood drive promotional materials went out to medium-to-large businesses and trade and professional associations on May 21st with a letter co-signed by Commissioner O'Dowd and Kevin Rigby.

"For companies, hosting blood drives is an easy and relatively inexpensive way that they can maintain their commitment to corporate citizenship during tough economic times," said Kevin Rigby, vice president and head of public affairs and communications at Novartis and co-chair of the Workplace Blood Donor Coalition.

Approximately 331,100 units of blood were transfused in New Jersey last year. New Jersey had to rely on 42,584 units imported from other states in order to meet the demand. A total of 111,000 units of blood were purchased from outside the state last year.

If New Jersey increased its blood donation rate to the national average of 5 percent, it would no longer need to import blood.

Virtua Health, for example, used 14,000 pints of blood last year. The health system will host 20 blood drives each year, including six planned for this summer.

Other members of the Coalition who participated in today's conference call were representatives of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, the New Jersey Hospital Association, Virtua Health and the New Jersey Society for Environmental, Economic Development.


These materials are available on the Coalition's website at www.njsave3lives.com. Commissioner O'Dowd is also asking fellow cabinet officers to hold blood drives at their agencies this summer.

Last Reviewed: 8/8/2012