BY GABRIELE HOLTERMANN
Five weeks after their semi-annual blood drive in January, the New York Blood Center and the New York Met hosted a second Mets Fan Blood Drive on Thursday, Feb. 11, at 10 locations across Queens and Brooklyn.
The blood supply was already critically low due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it took another hit because of the recent snowstorms. The New York Blood Bank’s supply has dropped to 1,500 units of blood, and the organization urges New Yorkers to donate blood, especially O-blood donors.
The Shops at Atlas Park in Glendale saw a moderate turnout of donors who received a voucher for a pair of tickets to see the Mets, a free limited-edition fan T-shirt, and an entry into a sweepstake for signed memorabilia.
Greg Bolanos from Forest Hills, who donated for the second time, wanted to do his part to help out and plans on donating blood regularly.
“There is a need with the global pandemic. I think if you can help people out, why not?” he said.
Judith Rollhaus not only donated blood for the 20th time, but also joined Be The Match, a bone marrow registry.
“I think it is important to be there for another and do what we can to take care of each other,” she said.
Jair Thompson, the supervisor of recruitment for the New York Blood Center and whose organization Be The Match has an office at the center, explained that attending blood drives is a way to find donors to join the bone marrow registry, which currently only has 22 million members nationwide.
He continued to explain that there is a dire need for people to join the registry, especially African Americans, who make up only 4 percent of the network, while Hispanics and Asians make up 10 percent and 5 percent, respectively.
“The need is more diversity. So when we come to drives like this, it’s pretty much people in the community from all races we recruit,” he said. “The majority of people who are on the registry are European white. They make up 77 percent. So a white person will find a transplant much quicker than someone diverse. It is my job to come out to locations, colleges, city agencies, everywhere and try to get people to register.”
Currently, he’s working on a campaign to find a matching donor for a 20-year-old patient with aplastic anemia.
“What happens ultimately is that he’ll pass away if he can’t find a matching donor,” Thompson said.
Joining the Be The Match registry is quite simple. Using a QR code and her cellphone, Judith Rollhaus created an account with the network and answered questions about her medical history. She then swabbed her cheeks for a DNA sample with swabs from a kit provided by Be The Match.
If you are between the ages of 18 to 44 and want to save a life, you can join the registry at www.bethematch.org.
The New York Blood Center urges donors to make an appointment by visiting nybloodcenter.org.
From Feb. 1 to Feb. 28, blood donors also can get a free COVID-19 antibody test at any of NYBC’s 18 fixed donor centers and all mobile drives in New York and New Jersey. The center is also asking for convalescent plasma donations from those who have recovered from COVID-19 to increase the plasma supply.