The New York Blood Center, which supplies blood to city hospitals, has declared a blood emergency, reporting just more than half of its ideal blood supply.
The NYBC currently has a four-day supply of blood, said Andrea Cefarelli, the group’s senior executive director for donor recruitment — far below the target seven-to-nine-day supply. Cefarelli said O Negative is the first to go, considering it is a universal blood type that everyone can use but is only found in about six percent of people.
“We wish people understood it’s a steady need for blood,” she said. “Ultimately, it’s the blood that’s already on the shelves that’s ready waiting and tested that saves lives in a tragedy. We need a constant stream.”
The summer months are usually thin for the blood center, and Cefarelli said the group has “been watching our inventory drop since just before Memorial Day, which is typical.”
The NYBC is asking residents of the city, the Hudson Valley, Long Island and New Jersey to donate.
Donors must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and not feel any symptoms of illness. For a complete list of restrictions, as well as donation locations, visit nybloodcenter.org.
All donated blood is tested for diseases such as hepatitis and HIV. Donated blood has a shelf life of 42 days for red cells, and five days for platelets. Plasma can be frozen for up to a year, according to the NYBC.
“We know if we can get the word out that blood donors really do turn out,” Cefarelli said.