The recent blast of winter weather has taken its toll on the blood supply, prompting the New York Blood Center to seek out donors to get the supply back to adequate levels. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.
Anesthesiologist Jonathan Hastie knows a thing or two about the importance of donating blood.
"I work in the operating room and I transfuse blood on a daily basis so I like to give, to try and replete the stocks," he says.
Dr. Hastie was giving at a blood drive Thursday at New York Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University Medical Center. It's critically important since more than 100 blood drives run by the New York Blood Center were cancelled in recent weeks due to storms.
That has left the blood supply at dangerously low levels for the blood center, which supplies blood to 200 area hospitals.
"All the types are low and especially 0 negative which is the universal blood type," said New York Blood Center Vice President of Customer Service Rob Purvis.
Platelets used for cancer patients and burn victims are also below the Blood Center's minimum levels. So it's catch up time, and the timing was great for the drive at New York Presbyterian.
"New York Presbyterian has a great demand for blood. We use more than 70,000 units of blood a year, we host more than 50 blood drives every year. This serves critical need for our patients and the community at large," said New York Presbyterian Hospital Director of Sustainability Jon Dickinson.
Anyone in good health weighing more than 110 pounds and between the ages of 17 and 75 can give blood. Sixteen year olds can donate with a parent's consent and folks older than 75 can with a doctor's note.
Ask regular blood donors about it, and they will tell you the process is simple and painless.
"It's very easy, yes, gentle when they put the needle in and I have never had a problem. Afterwards you get a couple of cookies and you are ready to walk home again," said one donor.
"I'm a universal donor and people need blood and one day I might and I'll be able to get it," said another donor.
For more information on donating blood, contact the New York Blood Center at 1-800-933-Blood or visit nybloodcenter.org.