Typically, less than five percent of eligible people donate blood. What that means, according to the American Red Cross, is that there is often an inadequate blood supply due to the lack of donations. This year, it is even worse than usual.
According to the New York State Department of Health, some sixty percent of New York residents are eligible to donate blood but only four percent actually do and eighty-five percent of the country's population will need a blood transfusion at some point in their lives.
Recently, I received correspondence from Kay Schwartz of the American Red Cross Blood Services explaining there has been a severe decline in blood donations, with donations being 25 percent below what they normally are for this time of year. Because of this situation, the Red Cross has asked hospitals to postpone non-emergency transfusions of type O blood until there is a better supply on hand.
American Red Cross Blood Services noted that the ideal situation would be to have a five- to seven-day supply of blood to ensure that it can adequately meet patient needs on a daily basis and appropriately respond to any unforeseen disaster that may occur. However, this summer our region is experiencing a dangerously low supply level of one- to two-days.
We all expect that the blood will be there when we or a loved one needs it. But the only way that will happen is for people to take just one hour out of their time to make a donation of one pint of blood. Donors must be 17 years or older, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in general good health to donate. The hour includes registering, giving a health history, and checks of the blood pressure, iron levels and temperature. The actual donation takes less than 10 minutes. The final step is easy, too, and fun. It's a stop at the canteen to revitalize your fluids before you leave. Usually a volunteer will give you juice or coffee and a little snack.
According to the Red Cross website, www.donatebloodnow.org, upcoming local blood drives include: July 30, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., BDC Crosstown, Route 7 and Watt Street, Schenectady; July 30, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., First Presbyterian Church, 209 Union Street, Schenectady; Aug. 2, from noon to 6 p.m., Church of the Nazarene, 3316 West State Street. Johnstown; Aug. 3, from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Baptist Nursing and Rehabilitation, 297 North Ballston Avenue, Scotia; Aug. 4, from 1 to 6 p.m., Mas Temple, 34 Division St., Amsterdam; Aug. 5, from 1 to 6 p.m., St. Joseph's Church, 3159 Route 9N, Greenfield Center; and Aug. 5, from 1 to 6 p.m., YMCA-Wilton, 20 Old Gick Road, Saratoga Springs.
For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call the Red Cross at (800) GIVE-LIFE. Also visit the Red Cross website, www.donatebloodnow.org.