Throngs of people poured into blood donation centers around Connecticut to help victims following Tuesday morning’s horrific acts of terrorism in New York City and Washington, D.C., which left thousands of people dead and tens of thousands injured in the nation’s military and financial headquarters.
E-mails flooded inboxes and papers posted around campus compelled students to “Do your duty” and donate blood. The Connecticut Red Cross has issued an urgent appeal for blood donations, and Yale students are invited to give blood Wednesday at Yale-New Haven Hospital’s Grace Pavilion from 7 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. and at the Omni-New Haven Hotel from 8 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Blood drives are also scheduled for Friday. Anyone in good health who weighs 110 pounds or more and is at least 17 years of age may be eligible to donate.
After two planes crashed into the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan Tuesday, so many people swamped donation centers all over the state that many blood banks were forced to turn people away, radio and news reports said.
When Manhattan native Jonathan Kaufman ’02 heard about the attack, he felt helpless and horrified, but most of all scared. He could not locate his parents. So he did the only thing he could think of to do. Kaufman went directly to the New Haven chapter of the American Red Cross on Whitney Street and saw that donors had already started arriving.
Kaufman also organized a blood drive on campus, but that had to be cancelled Tuesday when relief workers discovered that no donation machines were available in all of Connecticut.
Most of the machines were already in use in hospitals with a higher victim load such as Greenwich and Fairfield, Kaufman speculated.
The Red Cross in Boston had no blood to send to New York City, Dr. Robert L. Jones, chief executive officer and president of the New York Blood Center, told The New York Times. He said the center was checking on supplies in Philadelphia.
Lines at the Omni and Yale-New Haven are expected to be long Wednesday as the local chapter of the Red Cross scrambles to boost blood supplies. To speed up the process, the Red Cross recommended that students call with their name, phone number and blood type, a spokesperson said. The Red Cross will then call the donors whose blood type is most needed to come in for an appointment.
“The main reason they want to know blood type is because if you have a rare blood type, like AB, they definitely want you,” Kaufman said.
Priority blood types are also O negative and A negative.
As of Tuesday evening, it was not clear whether blood supplies had reached official crisis level, the Red Cross spokesperson said.
In addition to blood, the local Red Cross is urgently requesting loans of laptop computers and cellular phones from students to keep abreast if victims arrive at St. Raphael Hospital and Yale-New Haven Hospital.
The immediate response to jump in and help was similar at other Ivy League campuses.
Students at Princeton said lines to donate blood were out of control, with too few workers to take blood.
“We have received e-mails not to go down to the Princeton Medical Center because there is an overabundance of donors and they can’t deal with the numbers,” said Kelly Shaeffer, a sophomore at Princeton. “Students were asked to wait to donate in the next couple of days.”