OUT FOR BLOOD

There’s a huge need for blood.

And it’s been very hard to get donations since all small-sized blood drives have been called off because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But that notion could change, hopefully, in the near future.

Last week, we spoke with Marie Forrestal, the director of donor recruitment for New Jersey Blood Services, a division of New York Blood Services.

Forrestal says everything changed for her organization when social distancing became the norm a few months ago. And it may change blood drives forever as we once knew them.

The drives came to a screeching halt in March. Community blood drives were responsible for about 75% of all blood collected each month. Without the drives — which from time to time take place in churches, businesses, community centers and elsewhere — NYBS is down to about a day’s supply of blood each and every day moving ahead.

Additionally, drives in the organization’s blood mobiles are no longer possible because of the required social distancing — there’s no way to spread donors out in the vehicles with the CDC-recommended six feet between patients.

So they’re out, too.

As such, there is an absolutely dire need for more donations and blood drives at indoor locations that are at least 2,000-square-feet, that have air-conditioning and bathrooms.

“It’s a new world for us,” Forrestal said. “With so many people working from home, we’re not getting the donations we would get when a company would host a drive. They’re just not in the buildings anymore.”

Forrestal says one single donation of a pint of blood is enough to help three patients who need it, whether it’s in surgery, those who suffer from sickle cell anemia and scores of other ailments requiring the transfusion of blood.

At first, when the pandemic struck, it wasn’t so bad since elective surgeries were suspended and with fewer people driving because of the stay-at-home order, there were fewer car crashes. But now, with elective surgeries again possible — and you’ve no doubt seen there are a lot more cars on the road — the need is that much greater.

“If we collect 100 pints of blood at a drive, it assists up to 300 people,” Forrestal said. “So the need is there.”

Fortunately, there will be two upcoming local, large-scale blood drives where those interested in helping may donate.

The first one takes place Thursday, May 28, from noon to 8 p.m. at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.

Then a few days later, on Wednesday, June 3, another takes place from 2:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Sport Club Portugues, 55 Prospect St., in the Newark Ironbound.

You may donate at either of these drives if you’re aged 17 to 75. But first, you’ll need to visit www.nybc.org or call (800) 933-2566 because an appointment is required.

Now if you’re concerned about donating in a COVID-19 world, you probably shouldn’t be.

All NYBC employees who take part in the drives are prepared with personal protective equipment (PPE). All involved — including donors — must wear a mask. And, of course, employees wear gloves, too. No one — employees or donors — with a fever of 99.5º-Fahrenheit or higher will be admitted to a blood drive. And, of course, social distancing will be strictly observed and enforced. So the chance of contracting the virus are infinitesimal.

Now, considering that NYBC normally has about 600 drives each month — and that they’ll ultimately be able to have about 25 a month in this new world we live in — it should be clear how important donating blood has now become.

Forrestal also says that while those who have blood type O-negative are most sought after, the truth is donations of all blood types are critical now.

So if you’re willing to donate, consider one of the upcoming drives in East Rutherford of Newark.

And, if you’re part of an organization with an air-conditioned building with bathrooms and at least 2,000-square-feet of gathering space, consider hosting a drive, too.

Visit www.nybc.org or call (800) 933-2566 today to get on the road to donating at and/or hosting a blood drive. You won’t regret it one bit.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.