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blood drives

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Bad weather, cold and flu season and more are causing a drop in blood donations.


New York Blood Center (NYBC) declared the first blood emergency of 2023 on March 6. The blood emergency is due to several evolving factors, including recent poor weather, school breaks and cold and flu season. Last month, NYBC and its divisions across the nation received 6,000 fewer blood donations than the year prior and blood donations are 12% below hospital and patient needs.

The number of blood donations still are not back to pre-pandemic levels. Compounding the problem is a continued lag in first-time and youth donors, which remain about half of pre-pandemic levels.  And while New Yorkers are returning to in-person work, office and community blood drives and visits to NYBC Donor Centers are significantly down.  People working from home had an easier time donating in our donor centers, but we’re seeing a dramatic decrease at our centers.

“Each winter, we struggle to get folks to donate blood and this year is no exception. We need more New Yorkers to make blood donations, host blood drives and spread the word about the need for donations,” said Andrea Cefarelli, Senior Vice President at New York Blood Center.“Last year, we expanded our reach with a new donor center, and we recently announced new donor guidelines from the FDA; we are expanding in every way we can in order to reach new donors. This March, make a blood donation and tell a friend!”

In addition to whole blood donors, platelet donors are urgently needed. With a shelf life of just 7 days, NYBC relies on dedicated platelet donors to help patients undergoing chemotherapy, those with bleeding disorders, new mothers, and more.



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School breaks and increased travel have caused a dramatic decrease in blood donations; types O and B have dropped to 1-to-2-day level

New York Blood Center (NYBC) announced a blood emergency today, as school spring breaks and holiday travel have caused an alarming drop in donations over the past six weeks. All blood types are low and type O is at just a 1-to-2-day level.

This shortage occurs amid increasing COVID rates, which can be attributed to the highly contagious Omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1 that has been spreading rapidly throughout New York and surrounding areas. For example, New York City’s COVID transmission rate has increased 32% in the last 10 days. Last Monday, the city raised its COVID alert level to medium as cases surpassed a rate of 200 per 100,000 people in the five boroughs.

Hospitals and patients rely upon a steady flow of volunteer donors to receive life-saving blood donations, but the recent spike in cases and spring break travel have caused uncertainty. Donor participation has reached record lows at blood drives and donor centers.  In the last 6 weeks, NYBC has seen approximately 6000 fewer blood donors versus earlier this year.

“This time of the year always tends to be difficult for the blood supply, with school spring breaks and increased travel making blood donations less of a priority. These factors are now coinciding with increasing COVID cases and a potential fifth wave of the pandemic,” said Andrea Cefarelli, Senior Executive Director at New York Blood Center. “One blood donation has the ability to save up to three lives. We highly encourage all who are able to donate today to help New Yorkers who need it most.”

It only takes one hour to donate, and a single donation can save multiple lives. Roughly one in seven hospital admissions require a blood transfusion. Those in need include: cancer patients, accident, burn, or trauma victims, transplant recipients, surgery patients, chronically transfused patients suffering from sickle cell disease or thalassemia, and many more.

 To make an appointment at a local blood drive, donors can call 1-800-933-2566 or visit by visiting nybc.org.