During the past three years Amy Boyle of Chappaqua has experienced firsthand how critical blood donations are to metropolitan area hospitals. Her three-year-old son, Ryler, suffers from a disorder where his blood doesn’t clot properly and he requires weekly trips for new blood and platelet treatments.
“He bruises very easily,” Boyle said. “He falls a lot just like a normal kid would but with him it’s very dangerous.”
Most people understand how important it is to donate blood so hospitals have ample supplies to attend to the sick and injured. Sometimes, though, unless a close friend or family member is faced with a medical need, there’s a tendency to forget that the best way to avoid shortages is for people to donate a pint of blood when they have the chance.
For anyone passing through Grand Central Station this Thursday, June 12 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., there’s a convenient opportunity to contribute. The American Red Cross is teaming up with AECOM, a global technical and management support services firm, to hold one of its largest blood drives of the year.
Commuters or anyone who works nearby or is visiting the city can go to Grand Central’s Vanderbilt Hall during the 10-hour window as long as they meet the Red Cross’s criteria for blood donation. It is recommended that donors register in advance by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or by visiting http://www.redcrossblood.org/make-donation-sponsor. The sponsor code is “AECOM.”
Maureen Wellman, communications director for the New York area Red Cross blood services, said heading into summer is one of the problem periods on the calendar. With people making their summer plans, blood donations frequently are not part of many donors’ routines and supplies can dwindle.
“That’s really key for us,” Wellman said. “The summer months is when schools are out, people are on vacation and blood donations can decline for metropolitan area hospitals.”
This is the third year the Red Cross is holding the Grand Central blood drive. Two years ago 205 units were collected while last year brought in 180. Wellman said the Red Cross is aiming for 300 units this time.
That may sound like a lot of blood for one drive, but considering the size of the metropolitan area, the number of hospitals and that donations consistently decrease during the summer, Boyle understands that getting as many people to contribute is paramount.
“I don’t think people really understand just how much blood is really needed,” she said. “It’s not just car accidents. There are people who depend on it every day.”
Anyone who is 17 years old (16 with parental consent in New York State), weighs at least 110 pounds and is in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.