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Give blood now

The potential shortage of donated blood and blood

The potential shortage of donated blood and blood products the United States now faces presents a challenge the nation has never suffered before. Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/kuarmungadd

The potential shortage of donated blood and blood products the United States now faces presents a challenge the nation has never suffered before. This is a shore-to-shore crisis that leaves the regions unable to supply blood to each other, as they have always been able to do after hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and other disasters.

About 75% of donated blood and blood products come from blood drives conducted by workplaces, schools, colleges and community organizations. Practically all such blood drives have now been canceled in New York, and in most other places, too, as the nation takes shelter to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

New York Blood Center officials say Long Island alone has lost 17,000 potential units of blood due to such cancellations. And the problem is further exacerbated by social-distancing rules that mean fewer donors at a time can be served at Long Island's six brick-and-mortar NYBC collection centers. The centers are extending their hours (which differ by location and day) and have adapted their screening, waiting and cleaning processes to protect employees and clients from the virus.

They need your help, but because of the crisis and the space crunch, walking in won't work. The NYBC asks that anyone who can donate blood, platelets, red blood cells or plasma to go to NYBC.org or call 1-800-933-2566 to schedule a time to give.

And the problem will last as long as the crisis because while whole blood is useful for 42 days, platelets, part of crucial treatments for illnesses like childhood leukemia and other cancers and to aid surgical patients and bone-marrow transplant recipients, go bad after just five days.

At a time when many of us are struggling with feelings of powerlessness, a blood donation is a concrete way to help others, and a vitally needed one. 

— The editorial board

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