The never-ending need for blood has been exacerbated by both the global pandemic and the holiday season, with reserve levels decreasing across New York City and the country.
On Giving Tuesday, the New York Blood Center and Resorts World NYC hosted an annual blood drive event as part of their nine-year partnership.
Under normal conditions, the New York Blood Center would typically have a week’s worth of blood in their reserves, said account manager Armando Echeverry. But currently, the center is down to just one to two days worth of reserves.
And the blood shortage is also being felt across the nation, with the Red Cross announcing they are heading into the holiday season with its lowest blood supply in more than a decade.
“We’re hoping that people can give a little bit of their lives to save others,” said Echeverry last Tuesday at Resorts World NYC. “Since the pandemic started, donations have dwindled to the point where our reserve levels are very low. We have people with chronic illnesses who need blood on a consistent basis.”
Every pint of blood donated can save three lives. With eight to 12 pints of blood flowing through the average person, blood is usually regenerated in the body within 24 hours.
The efforts to incentivize people to donate blood in a dire time of need has been tough, says Echeverry, and he fears that new coronavirus variants will discourage people from donating.
During the pandemic, the number of blood drives in the region dropped by two-thirds.
“With our mobile blood drives, about a quarter of our blood came from schools and colleges,” said Echeverry, recalling the height of the pandemic. “That was no longer there. Little by little, we’re starting to get schools back.”
One does not need to be vaccinated in order to donate blood
Michelle Stoddart, RWNYC director of Community Development, said the blood drive was the fourth the casino has hosted this year, with many familiar faces returning to donate.
“We definitely see that people understand and that people will turn out to do this,” said Stoddart. “There’s a real passion, even with our staff.”
Denis Shannon, who works an evening security detail for the casino and hotel in Jamaica, is among the group of employees who give blood at the donation centers set up by their employer.
The one-hour process for Shannon helped RWNYC climb closer to a goal of 100 units of blood donated over the course of the day. Instead of taking his scheduled lunch break, Shannon was set on giving back before starting his shift.
“I do it because somebody needs my blood,” said Shannon as his blood was being drawn. “I’d rather do this than eat.”