Saving a life, or even three, can be as easy as filling out a few forms and sitting in a reclining chair. Dozens of Bayonne locals took part in a blood drive on Nov. 15 that was held in a community room at St. Henry’s Church to bolster blood supplies ahead of the shortage that’s anticipated during flu season.
The organizer was Sharon Romano, whose son Michael lost a fight with neuroblastoma, a rare pediatric cancer, when he was 11 years old. Over the course of a seven-year treatment, Michael received hundreds of blood transfusions and platelet donations, in addition to other forms of treatment.
Sharon Romano and the Bayonne community helped to ensure that Michael’s memory lives on by supporting the same donation efforts that went into Michael’s fight against cancer.
“This is a way for me to remember my son, and give back to what he depended on for so many years,” Romano said. “It can’t be stated enough how great the need is for blood. Seeing friends and those who are strangers to me do this twice a year means so much.”
Romano said that local first responders and other community members consistently stepped up to the plate to provide blood for Michael’s treatment.
‘Paying it forward’
“It’s all about just paying it forward, as people did for my dad and my sister,” one donor said. “I’ve been doing this a long time. It’s such a small sacrifice. I usually go get a beer and a steak after, fall asleep, and then I’m good to go when I wake up.”
Thousands of blood donations are needed on a daily basis in New York and New Jersey alone, for a wide range of medical needs, including childbirth, cancer, transplants, surgery, blood disorders, accidents, burns, and other traumas. Blood transfusions are needed in roughly one out of seven hospital admissions.
A spokesperson for the New York Blood Center, the nonprofit that collects the donations, said that there is currently a critical shortage of donated blood in the region. If there is ever a time to step up, it’s during periods of shortage. Donations have a shelf life, and supplies need to be replenished constantly.
A New York Blood Center employee said that, for those who experience serious trypanophobia (fear of needles), technicians will do their best to get the most hesitant donors through the process as comfortably as possible.
While all donors are needed, those with Type O Negative blood, universal donors, are in high demand, because their blood can be used for all recipients regardless of blood type.