With regional blood supplies dwindling, donors sought

Blood banks in New Jersey are reaching out to donors in an effort to help replenish dwindling blood supplies.

Blood donations usually drop in the summer months when many people are on vacation, and high school and college students who give blood during the school year are busy with other things.

Officials at New Jersey blood banks say the long holiday weekend contributed to the shortage.

“The shortage is at a point where we have less than a three-day supply of O-negative, which is severe because patients rushed into the emergency room before they’re typed are immediately transfused with O-negative,” said Marie Forrestal, director of New Jersey Blood Services, which supplies blood to 200 hospitals in the region.

“So it’s not at a safe level to only have a three-day supply.”

The shortage extends well beyond the New Jersey region.

“This is not just a local situation. It’s throughout the rest of the nation,” said Karen Ferriday, a spokeswoman for Community Blood Services, which supplies blood to more than 30 hospitals. “So while, on occasion, we do import blood from around the country, we’re finding that a little more difficult to also do.”

Hospitals have not had to cancel or delay surgeries because of the blood shortage, according to a representative of the New Jersey Health Department.

But officials at blood banks are worried that might happen if there’s no increase in donors soon.

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