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PR- 148-04
June 14, 2004


Diversity of Donors Needed to Supply 'Precise Match' Blood Donor Program

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) President Dr. Benjamin Chu, Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) Commissioner Martha K. Hirst and New York Blood Center President and CEO Dr. Robert Jones, today celebrated World Blood Donor Day at Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx.  World Blood Donor Day recognizes and thanks all voluntary blood donors for their life-saving contributions.  According to New York Blood Center, the City's blood inventory will drop to approximately 5,000 pints in July - half of what is required to adequately serve area hospitals.  The Mayor also stressed the importance of New Yorkers of all ethnicities and races donating blood to support the City's "Precise Match" program, which helps identify rare blood donors for hard-to-match people in need of life-saving blood transfusions. 

"When blood supplies are low, it can force the cancellation of surgeries and place lives at risk," said Mayor Bloomberg.  "New York City is the most diverse City in the world and it is critical that the blood supply matches the unique characteristics of our population.  The 'Precise Match' program is the vehicle by which we can ensure that critical blood supplies are adequate and appropriate for all New Yorkers."

Some people, especially those who are chronically transfused, can build up antibodies following a number of transfusions and "reject" at transfusion or have a bad reaction.  Their best chance is a transfusion from someone of the same ethnic and racial background who has the same inherited antigens, or markers, in their blood.  "Precise Match" encourages donations from a more diverse community so the blood supply better matches the population in New York and potential hospital patient needs. Patients requiring 'Precise Match' transfusions include those with leukemia, sickle cell disease or thallasemia, pregnant women, newborn babies, people undergoing chemotherapy and many others

"Sometimes we must test 200 donations to find just one rare blood match," said Dr. Jones.  "We currently test about 400 donors a week but hope to double that capacity in the future with a more robust and diverse donor base."

"City employees are the largest group of blood donors in the metropolitan area and are as diverse as the communities we serve.  DCAS is pleased to coordinate all City agency blood drives," said Commissioner Hirst.  "I urge all City employees who are able to donate blood to do so at one of the many blood drives scheduled this summer.  City employees should contact the Citywide Employee Blood Donor Program by dialing 311 to learn more about the scheduling of blood drives at their agencies."

"The New York Blood Center's Precise Match Blood Donor Program will help us provide even more effective treatment for the patients in New York City's public hospitals," said Dr. Benjamin Chu.  "Our own workforce is as diverse as the communities we serve, and this program will give our dedicated employees another opportunity to contribute significantly to our health care mission to all New Yorkers."

World Blood Donor Day honors Nobel Prize Winner Karl Landsteiner who discovered the major blood groups - A, B, AB and O.  The day is sponsored in part by the World Health Organization and is intended to thank donors who give 80 million units worldwide each year.  Four million Americans would die each year without life-saving blood transfusions. 

New York Blood Center is one of the nation's largest non-profit, community-based blood centers.  With the support of five regional operations, New York Blood Center has been collecting and providing life-saving blood transfusion products and services since 1964.  For more information on New York Blood Center and its programs, dial 1-800-933-BLOOD or

All blood donors must be at least age 17, weigh a minimum of 110 pounds and be in good general health.  New York Blood Center provides specially trained staff who perform free mini-physicals, check blood pressure, temperature and iron count.  For more information on where you can donate blood, call 311 or visit


Edward Skyler / Jordan Barowitz   (212) 788-2958

Kate McGrath   (HHC)
(212) 669-3386

Warner Johnston   (DCAS)
(212) 669-7140

Linda Levi (New York Blood Center)   (212) 468-2001

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