Blood banks face shortage

Blood banks
face shortage

NEW BRUNSWICK — Winter weather and winter illnesses have taken a serious toll on the region’s blood supply, according to local hospital officials.

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and the New Brunswick Affiliated Hospitals Blood Center called upon citizens of central New Jersey to donate blood last week .

Blood tends to be in short supply this time of year due to holidays, poor weather and illnesses, and this year is no exception. The wintry mix of freezing temperatures, snow and ice has kept away many would-be donors, according to officials. Cold and flu season has also kept many donors at home or taking medications that render them ineligible to donate.

"It’s a serious situation," said Mercy A. Kuriyan, director of transfusion medicine at Robert Wood Johnson. "We are a Level I trauma center. If there were a large accident or event that produced many injuries, we may not be able to meet the demand."

She noted that a major trauma patient can use blood from 20 to 40 volunteer donors.

The blood shortage is not unique to central New Jersey. Hospitals and blood centers throughout the region are concerned about diminishing blood supplies, according to Sally Wells, administrator for the New Brunswick Affiliated Hospitals Blood Center, which serves both Robert Wood Johnson and St. Peter’s University Hospital.

"Locally, we’re asking the community to do its part to ensure our hospitals have an adequate supply," Well said. "We need donors to come forward to give blood as well as platelets. Platelets have a shorter shelf-life than blood, and are especially important for cancer patients."

Potential donors are asked to call (732) 235-8100 to schedule an appointment to give blood at the New Brunswick Affiliated Hospitals Blood Center. The center is located on the sixth floor of the Clinical Academic Building, 125 Paterson St. in New Brunswick, adjacent to Robert Wood Johnson.

Appointments are encouraged, but walk-ins are also welcome. People questioning their eligibility to donate should call the Blood Center to be prescreened over the phone.