New York Blood Center under pressure as blood supply runs out

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Hugo Chavez’s successor, Nicolas Maduro, spoke at a meeting with the governing CTV on 12 April, two days after Mr Maduro took office

As a presidential inauguration looms, a million litres of blood have to be removed from the air-conditioned windows of the New York Blood Center in Manhattan.

That will not be the only blood to be stored and may not even be the last, as one disgruntled donor puts it.

This large, air-conditioned storeroom in Washington Heights, across the river from midtown Manhattan, is already overcrowded with people waiting to donate.

On top of that, some needles are going out with the drive for donations on the street, after giving people a seat at a table in the storeroom.

These days, even first-timers don’t make it into the storeroom and they’re at risk of becoming the 11,900 transfusion patients who die in the US every day.

At midday, we watched as some of those patients got their last set of needles, before the blood supply is decimated.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Visitors wait to donate at the blood center in Washington Heights, New York

It’s a family tradition for Ignacio Chavez, his wife Lilly and their son Hugo, who died just a week after his first birthday. The family gave two donors $20 (£16) for their troubles.

All they got was disappointment. The row of machines were not working and there was not enough blood.

“I thought that we could donate two or three times a week,” Ignacio told us.

“But due to the way the centre manages their donation, they make it very hard for people.

“It is a horrific condition because of lack of awareness.”

He said the New York Blood Center neglected the people it was meant to serve.

“One donor – through no fault of his own – had to give a million needles in one day,” he said.

“So this could really happen – it was shocking.”

Moving to New York last year, Ignacio hoped that one day he would get to donate.

“This is the only city in the world where they still have a building that looks like this – that is the most terrible thing, to donate in this building.”

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Visitors help with the blood donation drive

In another part of the storeroom, we visit one of the people whose life was saved by donated blood.

Maria Rosario Rosado gave two hours of her life for an unknown person, as she received three blood transfusions in hospital.

Now she waits to be called to donate.

“Right now there are about 3,000 people waiting to give blood, so at every hour a member of the staff will go through the queue,” said Pedro the centre’s president, Sheldon Siegel.

“We are flooded with donors. The question is, are we doing enough?”

However, the long queue proves that people like Ignacio Chavez are not letting up.

The blood crisis may not be over yet.

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