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In recognition of National Blood Donor Month, the Department of Health and Senior Services, the New Jersey Hospital Association and a coalition of businesses today announced a statewide campaign to save lives by increasing workplace blood donations.
“A single donation can save up to three lives,” said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard. “Blood is needed every day to perform surgeries and to treat injuries and illnesses so I urge New Jersey residents to donate blood not just this month, but year-round.’’
To kick off the Save 3 Lives: All in a Day’s Work campaign, the New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA) held a workplace blood drive at their Princeton headquarters and urged all hospitals in the state to host blood drives this month. During last year’s campaign, blood donations were increased more than 50 percent during January.
The theme of today’s NJHA blood drive—Give the gift that’s sure to be re-gifted—encouraged employees to begin the year by giving one additional gift by donating blood.
The New Jersey Workplace Blood Donor Coalition, which is co-sponsored by Novartis Pharmaceutical Corp. and the Department, called on businesses and associations throughout the state to hold blood drives during 2009.
“Nine out of ten people need blood at some point in their lives,’’ said Commissioner Howard. “Yet, at most times during the year, the state has less than a two-day supply of blood.’’
NJHA President and CEO Elizabeth Ryan noted that more than 500,000 units of blood are transfused in New Jersey hospitals each year, but donations have not kept pace with the growing need.
“New Jersey is fortunate to have quality hospitals with talented medical teams, but their life-saving work often depends on the availability of a precious resource – blood,’’ said Ryan. “Donated blood is used to help an array of patients, from accident victims to cancer patients. It could be any of us – or our loved ones – who are saved by this selfless gift.”
In 2007, the state needed 59,011 more units of blood than it collected and had to import from other states, the Commissioner noted.
“We can reduce New Jersey’s blood shortage by encouraging employers to make it easy and convenient for their employees to donate blood and to increase the number of their employees giving blood,” said Kevin Rigby, vice president of public affairs and communications at Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.
“Sixty percent of New Jersey adults are eligible to donate blood, yet only 2.5% do so,’’ said Rigby, who chairs the coalition. “If New Jersey could increase its donor participation to the national average of 5%, the state could eliminate its blood shortage.’’
Workplace blood drives address the three reasons most people give for not donating blood: That it is inconvenient, that they were unaware of the need and that they have never been asked to donate. Workplace blood drives make donating convenient. Workplace blood drives also offer an opportunity to reach diverse ethnic groups whose blood types are often in short supply.
For example, some African Americans have U-negative or Duffy-negative blood types—which are rare. Patients with these blood types must depend on other African Americans to supply this life saving blood. Twenty-five percent of Asians and 18 percent of African Americans have B positive blood types while only nine percent of whites and Hispanics have this type.
In addition to DHSS, Novartis and NJHA, members of the Coalition represent the Blood Bank Task Force of New Jersey, Capital One, the Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey, Educational Testing Service, the Healthcare Institute of New Jersey, Met Life, the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, the New Jersey State Masonic Blood Program, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Virtua Health, trustees of the Blood Center of New Jersey and the Community Blood Council of New Jersey.
Additional information about workplace blood drives can be found on the Coalition’s website at www.njsave3lives.com. The site provides free tools that organizations can download and use to promote their own blood drive campaign.
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Department of Health
P. O. Box 360, Trenton, NJ 08625-0360