TOMS RIVER – Twenty-one months since it first emerged in Garden State, the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the number of donated blood entering hospitals.

Hospitals and organizations urgently need blood donors. December through January is generally a low time of year for blood donation, which is why you are being asked to give the gift of life this holiday season.

“There is no substitute for blood. Only volunteer blood donors can come and make this gift,” said Michael Leviton, Blood Services Business Development Liaison with RWJBarnabas Health.

During a blood drive at Community Medical Center, Leviton said the problem was global – the COVID-19 crisis has reduced blood drives in several ways. People continue to work from home, for example, limiting the number of blood drives that can take place at businesses, and high schools and colleges restrict visitors.

At the same time, he said, patients affected by COVID-19 need blood transfusions. Donations can also help patients receiving cancer care or those suffering after traumatic events such as childbirth or a car accident.

“I just want to let it be known that the vaccine and COVID boosters don’t stop you from donating blood,” Leviton added.

The healthcare system is in the midst of a series of several blood drives during the holidays. Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Somerset holds blood drives from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on December 24 and 31. December 28 and 30.

“You wish more people would do it. It’s a simple process,” said Robert Breault, a resident of Whiting.

New Jersey 101.5 spoke to the 63-year-old while donating blood platelets. Over the past decades, he has donated platelets more than 100 times. He tries to go there every month.

Manalapan’s Elyssa Gornstein used about 20 minutes of her workday to donate blood on Tuesday. The 25-year-old, who works at Community Medical Center, said donating blood is one way to really help others, and it’s about as easy as a regular blood test.

“I see the amount of blood products that we use on a daily basis,” Gornstein said.

The American Red Cross says it is experiencing the worst blood shortage in more than a decade.

“Dangerously low blood supply levels have forced some hospitals to defer patients from major surgeries, including organ transplants,” the organization says on its website.

In general, individuals can donate blood up to six times a year. Platelet donation can happen more often. You must weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health. In New Jersey, you must be at least 16 years old (parental permission required for those under 18).

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at [email protected]

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