PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
February 20, 2014

Mary E. O'Dowd, M.P.H.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

Health Department Encourages Blood Donations Following Recent Winter Storms

Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd today alerted residents of the critical need for blood donations following the severe winter storms that have impacted the nation in recent weeks. Since February 1st, the Red Cross has had to cancel more than 30 blood drives throughout New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania, resulting in approximately 1,200 units of blood not collected due to winter weather.

"Cancellations of numerous blood drives and donor appointments in New Jersey and many other states have affected blood supplies both in our state and nation," said Health Commissioner O'Dowd. "Eligible donors are encouraged to make an appointment with their local blood center to give in the coming days. Please take time to make a donation. A single unit of blood can save up to three lives."

New Jersey's blood centers are calling for blood and platelet donors to help restock the blood supply for February and March. Most centers currently have less than a one-day supply on their shelves and have been distributing blood products to hospitals as quickly as the donations came in. Blood is in constant demand to treat patients with illnesses and traumatic injuries and to perform surgeries.

"New Jersey's blood centers and hospitals with donating facilities have been doing an outstanding job of meeting patients' needs for blood even though recent storms have lowered the number of blood donations. To ensure that the patients in New Jersey continue to have blood available, blood centers and hospitals with collection facilities need people to donate blood now.

The Coalition is supporting an all-out call for donors across the state," said Kevin Rigby, US Country Head of Public Affairs and Vice President, Public Affairs, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.

All blood types are needed to ensure an adequate blood supply. According to the American Red Cross, there is an urgent need for blood types O positive, O negative, A negative and B negative. Type O negative donors are especially in demand, because they are "universal donors" whose blood can be transfused into anyone in emergency rooms and trauma situations when there is no time for blood typing.

 For a calendar of public blood drives and to locate the blood center or hospital collection facility nearest you, visit www.njsave3lives.com.