Blood centers experience decrease in donations

Blood centers experience decrease in donations

File photo by Julianne Mosher

Among the shortages New Yorkers are facing is blood donations.

According to the New York Blood Center in a press release, two months ago, donations began to decline. The center has seen 6,000 fewer donations than earlier in the year.

“This is a disturbing trend after the chronic blood crisis during the pandemic and ran counter to our hope that our communities were returning to normal,” the press release read. “We had seen some promising signs with school blood drives returning and many organizations scheduling blood drives for the first time in two years, yet, our donor centers and community blood drives have seen a decrease of 30%. While there are more convenient blood drives happening, blood donors are just not turning out.”

The New York Blood Center is currently experiencing an inventory of less than
two to three days. Types 0+ and 0- are critically low.

Dr. Linda Mamone, director of Transfusion Services/Blood Bank at Stony Brook Medicine, answered a few questions for TBR News Media about the hospital’s experience.

Stony Brook University Hospital Blood Bank is a collection facility that serves the patients at the hospital with blood and blood products.

Has the Stony Brook University Hospital Blood Bank been experiencing a blood shortage?

We have been closely monitoring our blood inventory throughout the pandemic — and earlier, of course — but we have been fortunate enough to have had a sufficient blood supply for our patients. 

Is there a particular type of blood that there is less of? 

In terms of the four main — ABO — blood groups, O is the most common, followed by A, then B and then AB. Also, many more people are Rh positive than Rh negative. All blood types are critical for donation though.

Why do you think there is a shortage? Is there any way to solve the problem?  

Certain blood products — such as platelets — have a relatively short shelf life, which can lead to significant fluctuations. Historically the summer months and COVID-19 surges have been difficult overall.

It is important to have a diverse group of blood donors, with repeat donors being vital. Another important way to improve the blood supply is to increase awareness about blood donation. This is one option for people who may not be able to directly donate but still want to help.

Do you think people are hesitant to donate blood in a health care facility setting? If so, what is your advice to them?

Some people may be reluctant to donate in a health care facility. However, our donor center has ample space for social distancing and all prospective donors are health screened at the hospital entrance. Our staff maintains adherence to policies instituted to prevent the spread of infectious agents.

The Stony Brook University Hospital Blood Bank is located in the main lobby area of the hospital’s 5th floor in Suite 5000. To schedule an appointment to donate blood or platelets, call 631-444-3662.

New York Blood Center has donor centers at 1010 Route 112, Port Jefferson Station and 905 Walt Whitman Road in Melville. Call 1-800-933-2566 to make an appointment.