Blood Centers Desperate for Donors Following Hurricane Irene Disruptions

More than 2,000 donations lost in New York area

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    Blood centers across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast are running on short supply following Hurricane Irene, which prompted the shutdown of blood drives across both regions.

    The Red Cross reports a shortfall of 2,100 units of blood -- enough blood to serve 6,300 people -- since the storm barreled up the east coast this weekend.

    While Irene has moved on, the widespread power outages and transportation disruptions it caused continue to prevent would-be donors from getting out to give.

    The New York Blood Center, which has reopened all centers since Sunday's storm, is down roughly 2,000 units, bringing its inventory below the two-day minimum. Summer season is typically a slower season for giving blood, which makes this shortfall even more worrisome.

    "A lot of your donations happen at schools, so during the summer you don't have [as many] blood drives," Pat Smith, a New York Blood Center spokesman said. "People are away, there's a downturn in work related blood drives, and then when you lose a weekend like this ... the effect is you end up critically short of available blood."

    Mayor Michael Bloomberg addressed the issue this morning during remarks to Staten Island firefighters, whom he thanked for their efforts during the storm.

    "Irene disrupted blood collection throughout the metropolitan area," he said. "And with another three-day holiday weekend coming up the supply will get even lower."

    The New York Blood Center says several types are needed including O-negative, which can be transfused into anyone. The Red Cross urges donations of both blood and platelets, which have a shelf life of just five days and are needed in cancer treatment.

    The New York Blood Center serves more than 20 million people in the New York metro area.

    Anyone, age 17 or older, who fulfills donation criteria can schedule an appointment by calling 1-800-933-2566 or visiting the center's website. Donation centers are located in New York City, Long Island, New Jersey and the Hudson Valley. Outside the metro area, donors can contact the Red Cross at 1-800-733-2767, or visit their website.