Every two seconds, someone in the United States is in need of blood.
With just one donation of a pint of blood, up to three lives can be saved.
In New Jersey, according to the state Department of Health and Senior Services, fewer than four percent of eligible residents donate regularly, resulting in the need for critical blood donations.
Keep in mind that blood donations are not only used for emergency surgery, but also for everyday needs such as transfusions and treatments for those who suffer from blood disorders like sickle cell disease.
I treat many patients, especially children, affected by this disease at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center, which is a component of the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Program at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey (CINJ). I see first hand the critical need of having certain blood types and blood products (like platelets) on hand for these patients. Patients on a daily treatment regimen can not afford to wait an extra day or two until their blood type becomes available.
Donating blood throughout the year is extremely important, however, the demand for blood is highest during the holiday season as the donor turnout takes a plunge due to inclement weather, busy shopping schedules, and the flu season in full swing.
If every college student home on break this season rolled up his or her sleeve, we could avert what typically becomes a crisis at this time of year. And many businesses are receptive to holding company-wide blood drives – just check with your human resources department.
Never donated before? It’s a very simple process.You must be 17 years old or older, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health. It takes about 30 minutes and can be the best holiday gift you give this season.
One of the closest donation centers in the area is at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick. Call 732-235-8100 for more information or visit: http://www.rwjuh.edu/medical_services/blood_donation.html.
Courtesy of Richard Drachtman, M.D., interim division chief of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey and a professor of pediatrics at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.