Source: North Jersey.com
Blood supplies typically decrease to their lowest levels during the summer, when people are on vacation. But this year, the shortage in New Jersey is more serious, with a 15 percent drop statewide from last year, said Jerry Antoine, director of donor recruitment at the Blood Center of New Jersey in East Orange. “Our department has seen a 20 percent drop from last year. We need 110 pints of blood daily to keep up with the demand. The whole state is suffering.”
Donors, most of whom came from various World Mission Society churches on the East Coast, wore their trademark fluorescent yellow shirts, and cheered and clapped their way through the drive, turning what might have been a somber event into a party-like atmosphere.
The eight-hour Mega Drive also had a barbecue, dancers and band performances as well as speakers, like County Executive Kathleen Donovan, who praised the group for helping New Jersey at a time when blood banks are in critical need.
The church conducts several blood drives annually but this one marked the largest in its history, said Saira Ahmed, a church spokeswoman. “This is the first time we have brought together seven blood centers from around New Jersey. Our goal is to save 3,000 lives. Each pint collected can save three lives.”
The donations are also helping to alleviate bullying in North Jersey, Ahmed said. For each pint of blood collected, the blood centers will donate $5 to anti-bullying programs at the Bergen County Technical Schools.
John Casas, a church overseer, boasted that holding a drive to supply seven blood centers had never been done before by any group. “It’s like bringing McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King together for a burger festival,” Casas said.
Blood bank officials lamented that the hardest part of their job is to get people to donate, and the church made that job eons easier.
The donations from Sunday will help all parts of New Jersey, he said. But the blood collected won’t last long — the supply will likely be used up within two weeks, Antoine said. If hospitals run out of blood, they either have to ration blood, delay procedures or ship in blood from other states.
“We need the people of New Jersey to realize that we need a constant supply of blood,” said Antoine. “We are asking everybody eligible in New Jersey who is old enough, if they are healthy to come and donate blood.”