Give blood: Few headlines, everyday need

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:45

    WARWICK-Gloria Esch and her husband, Mike, took a little time out of their lives Sunday to do something good for someone they might not even know. Both donated blood at St. Stephen's semi-annual blood drive. It takes less than an hour and the benefits are priceless. "We try to make it convenient for people," said Karen Brown, a registrar from the Community Blood Services here in Goshen. "We go to churches on Sunday. People are already here. We just ask that they take the extra 45 minutes or hour to donate. We go to health clubs. We basically go to where the people are." That's because the people don't necessarily come to them. According to the group's Web site, while 75 percent of people will need blood at some point in their lives, only 5 percent actually donate blood. In the northern New Jersey, southern New York area, 300 blood transfusions are done everyday. The need for blood is always here, but there are times when the need is more acute. Winter is one of those times. "After the holidays our supply is very low," said Karen Ferriday of the Community Blood Services public relations department. "People have been busy with the holidays and they don't have time to donate. Plus, bad weather sometimes cancels drives." Then you also have to deal with sickness. People are deferred because they have a cold or infection. Ferriday said it takes 200 pints a day to meet one day's demand in the area. "The supply needs to be consistently maintained," she said. And the donor base is getting smaller, said Anita McCroskey, supervisor at the Goshen Facility. "People don't see a need until they see a disaster or a catastrophe," McCroskey said. "Then they see the need to donate. But the truth is, there is a need for blood everyday." Gloria Esch doesn't wait for an emergency to donate. "We give all the time," she said. People may donate every six weeks, but must be in good health when they do. Winter brings many different obstacles health-wise to prevent people from donating, which is why it is so important to donate when you can. If you are on an antibiotic, you cannot donate until five days after completing your prescription. Someone with any type of infection must wait two weeks from when the last symptoms appeared. Blood services groups are encouraging people to begin donating young. You must be at least 16 years old to donate, and weigh over 110 pounds. Community Blood Services has a high school program, aimed at getting upperclassmen to get in the habit of giving blood and organizing drives at their schools. "Local high school students play an important role in maintaining our region's blood supply because they provide a steady source of first-time donors, which is an important part of ensuring an adequate blood supply today and in the future," according to the Web site. And now it is truly convenient to donate. The Community Blood Services has a permanent donation facility in Goshen, across from the Sorrento Cheese factory in the Eastgate Corporate Park. In addition, the bloodmobile makes its way to the Monroe Wal-Mart the first Friday of every month between 3 and 7:30 p.m. The Community Blood Services are always looking for groups to organize drives in the community, according to McCroskey. "Blood collected in this community, stays in this community," she said. And she'll help you organize it, too, by giving you the tools to ease the load. For example, one coordinator getting 25 donations is a bit tougher than five sharing the recruitment duties and each getting five to donate. Community Blood Services provides blood to St. Anthony Community Hospital, St. Luke's Cornwall, and both campuses - Goshen and Middletown - of the Orange Regional Medical Center. January is National Volunteer Blood Donor Month. Anyone giving blood between Jan. 17 and 22 will receive a long-sleeved T-shirt for their donation.