Less than 4 percent of eligible NJ donors gave blood in 2017
Some blood centers in the eastern portion of the country have less than a one-day supply of blood on hand.
Between the holidays, illness and the colder temperatures, this is never an easy time of year to attract voluntary blood donors. And the vicious snowstorm in early January did not help, resulting in the cancellation of several blood drives across New Jersey.
According to the New Jersey Hospital Association, fewer than 4 percent of the state's eligible blood donors actually took the time to donate in 2017 and potentially save a life.
Alana Mauger with American Red Cross Blood Services said 700 units of blood need to be collected in the Penn-Jersey region every single day to meet patient demand.
"We've been on a campaign to educate people, to let people know that there is no substitute for blood donation," Mauger said. "It can't be manufactured. It has to come from a voluntary blood donor."
Mauger said many non-donors either don't understand the need for blood or they're afraid of needles.
"I think once they've gone through the process they'll see it's really not that scary," Mauger added.
While the donation process takes about an hour from start to finish — including a physical and a questionnaire — the act of giving blood takes 8 to 10 minutes.
In New Jersey, according to the state department of health, individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent), weight at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may donate blood. People are eligible to donate a pint of blood every 56 days.
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While all blood types are regularly needed, Mauger cited a more critical need for Type 0 Negative (can be transfused to almost anyone), Type B Negative (extremely rare), and platelets (a clotting component of blood, often needed by cancer patients, burn victims and bone marrow recipients).
As of Friday, according to America's Blood Centers, 5 percent of blood centers in the northeast had a day or less of blood supply on hand. Thirty-four percent reported a supply that can last one to two days.
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