The Red Cross held an emergency blood drive Thursday at Manhattan's Grand Central Terminal, because the organization's blood supply is at a 15-year low nationwide. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.
Rodney Ripley knows firsthand how important it is for hospitals to have plenty of blood. He was seriously injured last year when a mirror he was carrying shattered and nearly cut his arm in half.
"When you are sitting in the hospital and lost half your blood, to have that blood supply there, it's an unbelievable feeling," said Ripley. "And I'm just thankful to all the people out there who donate, and I want to be in the front of the line giving as well."
He was one of those donating as the American Red Cross held the first public blood drive inside Grand Central Terminal's Vanderbilt Hall. The timing could not have been better, since the Red Cross says blood supplies nationwide are at a 15-year low.
The Red Cross needs about 17,000 donations a day to maintain an adequate blood supply. All blood types are needed, but the organization is especially in need of O-negative, O-positive, A-negative and B-negative.
"It's been a brutal summer for us," said American Red Cross Executive Vice President Chris Hrouda. "The heat combined with some severe storms across the northeast has created a real short supply situation. So this is a really critical drive for us at a really critical time."
The drive was hosted by AECOM, a company that did some of the restoration work on the Terminal.
"Thousands of people who come through this great facility. Hopefully they will realize the need and maybe they will stop by and donate some of their blood," said AECOM Chairman and CEO John Dionisio.
Brian Boyle realizes the need. He was nearly killed in a car accident eight years ago and needed 36 blood transfusions.
"It's vital that we have the units that we need in a critical amount of time because it can save lives. I'm the living proof of that," said Boyle.
To donate blood, like I did, you have to be at least 17 years old or 16 with parental permission, weigh more than 110 pounds and be in generally good health. And it really doesn't hurt that much at all.
"Obviously there's a stick of a needle when we draw your blood, but it's very, very quick and very painless and you are doing a great thing for somebody else," said Hrouda.
More drives are planned, including one at Citi Field next Saturday.
Mayor Bloomberg did his part by donating blood in Downtown Brooklyn.
The Mayor said there is a dire need for donors and he tries to give blood several times a year when he can.
He said the process is quick and painless and saves lives.
To find out more about donating blood or the location of future blood drives, head to redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.