RARITAN TWP., NJ – Probably everyone has driven past a “Blood Drive” sign in their community, yet only a small number of actually give blood on a regular basis.

There are a handful of reasons why some might not want to donate. There’s worry that it might hurt, cause discomfort, or that it will take up too much time.

While each of those fears is valid, they are not necessarily true.

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Blood is constantly in high demand everywhere in the United States. A single trauma victim may need up to 40 (or more) units of blood. Blood is needed for patients of all ages, for all kinds of injuries and ailments. There is no substitute for human blood, and the need for it may arise at any time. These reasons - and others - are why it is so important for there to be a constant supply of blood.

“Within a community as tight-knit and small as ours, this need can become even more vital,” said Cathy Conroy, Blood Donor Recruiter at Hunterdon Medical Center. “A single blood donation can save up to three lives, and in a place like Hunterdon County, this is no small feat.”

Dr. Robert Coates, who is the Chief Medical Officer at Hunterdon Medical Center, has been a donor since 1980, donating more than 15 gallons of red blood cells. In 2006, Dr. Coates began donating double red cells via the apheresis instrument. During this type of donation, the two red cells are collected and the plasma and platelets are returned to the donor. This process takes about 40 minutes. A donation of one platelet and one red cell can also be done within 60 to 90 minutes. This procedure is beneficial for cancer patients due to the two products, platelet and red cell, coming from the same donor, increases the likelihood of a better outcome for the patient.

“Dr. Coates is a very loyal and dedicated blood donor for HMC,” Conroy said. “He's always willing to donate whenever he is eligible. You never know when you may need blood, or when someone you love may need it. Donating regularly, like Dr. Coates, can help us to ensure that we are never short on blood.” 

For those who are nervous about the prospect of donating blood, Conroy assures that “donating is virtually painless.”

“Donating blood is relatively quick, and absolutely safe,” Conroy said. “The rewards are endless. Not only do you get free cookies and juice, but most of all you get the satisfaction of knowing you’ve helped others.” 

To be eligible to donate blood a person must be at least 17 years of age, be in good health and weigh at least 110 pounds.  “We are always in need of donors to keep up with our supply.  I also encourage businesses to have a blood drive at the hospital where their employees can donate as a group,” she said..

Call 908-788-6405 to schedule your appointment to donate blood or learn more by visiting hunterdonhealthcare.org.