It takes a "village" to keep blood supply adequate, safe

Plant Engineering has its share of multi-gallon blood donors, some of whom have lost track of how much they've given over the years. To celebrate their contributions, William Mahoney, executive director, Plant Engineering, recently held a breakfast to celebrate one employee who had achieved the 10-gallon mark. Shown (l-r) are: Lewis Stanio, manager, Distributed System, and the department's newest donor; Mahoney, who has given more than four gallons; Len Barraco, lead plumber, 17 gallons; and David Howard, mechanic, the 10-gallon giver.
Plant Engineering has its share of multi-gallon blood donors, some of whom have lost track of how much they've given over the years. To celebrate their contributions, William Mahoney, executive director, Plant Engineering, recently held a breakfast to celebrate one employee who had achieved the 10-gallon mark. Shown (l-r) are: Lewis Stanio, manager, Distributed System, and the department's newest donor; Mahoney, who has given more than four gallons; Len Barraco, lead plumber, 17 gallons; and David Howard, mechanic, the 10-gallon giver.

"As employees of a hospital, every day we see emergencies that are sudden and life-changing," says Edward Snyder, MD, director, Blood Transfusion Services in the Department of Laboratory Medicine. "We also see surgical and medical miracles every day. As a 1,500-plus-bed hospital, we have to be ready for these emergencies."

As part of that preparedness, Yale-New Haven Hospital utilizes the American Red Cross blood system, which maintains 40 blood centers across the United States. To help increase the blood supply, YNHH holds blood drives on both campuses throughout the year and recruits donors from its employees, visitors and the public. YNHH also receives blood products from the Rhode Island Blood Center.

"Every time a person donates a pint of blood, he or she helps three people through their red cells, plasma and platelets," explains Dr. Snyder, professor, Laboratory Medicine, YSM. "

Although physicians are using less blood in surgeries and procedures, the need for an ample and safe blood supply in Connecticut and the U.S. still exists." With robust cardiovascular, oncology and surgery programs, Yale-New Haven is the largest user of blood and blood products in the state and transfuses thousands of inpatients and outpatients annually. Each hospital blood drive yields about 100 pints of blood but to meet its annual red cell needs alone, YNHH needs more than 36,000 blood donations. Connecticut uses more blood than it collects and must import blood from other states to meet its needs.

Dr. Snyder points out that blood usage is pretty steady throughout the year, but during the summer, the Red Cross collects less blood because steady donors go on vacation, causing supplies to fall slightly. Red Cross estimates that only 3 percent of eligible donors donate in the U.S.

"When you work in health care, you realize that we are all part of a ‘village,'" says Dr. Snyder. "If we have a gift, we are obligated to share it — and healthy blood is a gift. Blood drives help us make it available at all times — not just when there's a disaster. "

YNHH is holding two blood drives in July. The first is Monday, July 1, 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m., Allspice Café, Saint Raphael Campus; 789-3805 for an appointment. The second is Tuesday, July 30, 7 a.m.-6 p.m., 55 Park Street; 688-8425 for an appointment.