The following is a Letter to the Editor submitted by New Jersey Health and Senior Services Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd:
Hospitals depend on a ready supply of blood every day to perform surgery and treat trauma victims. Thanks to the generous support of New Jersey businesses and their employees, we made great strides in increasing New Jersey’s blood supply this summer.
Our 2012 Summer Workplace Blood Drive Campaign, called The Need for Blood Doesn’t Take a Vacation,was hosted by the NJ Workplace Blood Donor Coalition, which represents some of New Jersey’s biggest employers. Coalition members promoted the need for workplace blood drives to thousands of New Jersey business leaders and public officials. What’s unique about this campaign is we have tracked our success so participants know they’ve made a difference—and we can use this data as a baseline for future campaigns.
By working together, New Jersey’s eight blood centers and the NJ Workplace Blood Donor Coalition, which I co-chair with Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp.’s Kevin Rigby, employers held more than 3,500 blood drives and New Jersey residents donated more than 86,285 units of blood, an increase of more than 8,700 units. As a result, New Jersey’s blood centers reported nearly 450 more blood drives than last summer – an increase of 13.8 percent in the number of drives and an 11.2 percent increase in the number of units of blood collected over the same period in 2011.
It is important that we keep up the momentum that we’ve built this summer. A donation can help ensure blood is available when it is needed. Nine out of 10 people will need blood at some time in their lives due to illness, to treat an injury or during surgery and there is no artificial substitute. By donating blood, New Jerseyans are giving something that is irreplaceable. A single donation – one unit of blood – can save up to three lives.
Giving blood is easy. It takes less than an hour and you’ll be helping others. For more information about blood donation in New Jersey, visit www.njsave3lives.com and click on the calendar of events to find upcoming blood drives in your county.
Mary E. O'Dowd