RWJBarnabas Health urges blood donations during American Heart Month

Emergency shortage of Type O blood and platelets continues throughout winter months

February is American Heart Month, and RWJBarnabas Health is continuing its urgent appeal for blood and platelet donations, especially Type O blood, the universal blood type. The surge in respiratory illnesses this winter has exacerbated the already acute nationwide shortage, and blood suppliers are in critical need of blood products in order to meet demands.

According to America’s Blood Centers, a blood transfusion occurs every two seconds in the U.S. Life-saving blood is given to patients in extensive and varied situations including to cardiovascular patients during heart transplants, open heart surgery and other cardiovascular surgeries. Other situations include cancer therapies, traumas such as motor-vehicle, industrial and home accidents, childbirth, organ transplants and mass casualty events. Despite this, only 3% of Americans donate blood.

Blood drives across the RWJBarnabas Health system and donations from the donor rooms starting in mid-November through Jan. 25 have yielded approximately 800 units of blood and 270 units of platelets. All blood and platelet donations at an RWJBH blood drive or donor room stay within the system and have a direct impact on local blood supply availability within a few days of being donated.

“We’d like to thank everyone who has already selflessly donated blood this winter and we continue to encourage New Jersey residents to make a donation during American Heart Month,” Sally Wells, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Blood Services business development liaison, said. “Our donors have already made a big impact on the shortage in the state, but blood donations can only be stored for up to 42 days and platelets must be transfused within five days of collection. The need to replenish our supply on a daily basis is always a challenge, but critical to our ability to ensure an adequate supply to perform the cutting-edge surgeries and advanced cancer therapies we offer patients to meet the care needs of our communities.”

Here’s how to donate:

Schedule an appointment at a fixed RWJBH Donor Room. RWJBarnabas Health has two fixed locations, at RWJUH in New Brunswick (located on the 4th floor of the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Clinical Academic Building at 125 Paterson St. in New Brunswick) and at RWJUH Somerset (located at 110 Rehill Ave. in Somerville). Both are open Monday-Friday and select Saturdays. For hours of operations and to schedule an appointment, click here.

Attend a local blood drive: RWJBarnabas Health is hosting several blood drives across the state in February that include:

Rutgers University Blood Drive
11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday
Commons @ The Yard
40 College Ave., New Brunswick

Raritan Valley Road Runners Blood Drive
10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Feb. 11
Reformed Church of Highland Park
19 South 2nd Ave., Highland Park

Monmouth Medical Center Blood Drive
11:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Feb. 16
Unterberg Learning Center
300 2nd Ave., Long Branch

Embrace Kids Tackle Sickle Cell Blood Drive
10 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 18
Arline and Henry Schwartzman Courtyard
1 Robert Wood Johnson Place, New Brunswick

Rahway-Scotch Plains Community Blood Drive
11 a.m.-5 p.m. Feb. 20
RWJUH Rahway Fitness and Wellness Center
2120 Lamberts Mills Road, Scotch Plains

Lakewood Community Blood Drive
1-7 p.m. Feb. 21
Monmouth Medical Center-Southern Campus
600 River Ave., Lakewood

Newark Beth Israel Medical Center Blood Drive
10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Feb. 23
Conference Room H-3
201 Lyons Ave., Newark

Seton Hall University Blood Drive
11 a.m.-5 p.m. Feb. 28
Bethany Hall
South Orange

Shimon and Sara Birnbaum Jewish Community Center Blood Drive
1-6 p.m. Feb. 28
Social Hall
775 Talamini Road, Bridgewater

Free parking is available for all blood donors. Donors must be at least 16 years old (16-year-olds require written parental consent) and weigh at least 110 pounds (120 pounds if 16 years old). Donors must also present photo identification at the time of donation. Donors must wait at least eight weeks (56 days) between donations of whole blood and can donate whole blood up to six times per year.