ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza was joined by local health officials for a press conference Tuesday morning to discuss the nationwide shortage of blood products and its impact on the region.

“Two weeks ago, the American Red Cross declared the blood shortage a national crisis,” Dr Mendoza said. “These warnings are real. Our region may not be able to handle a large scale emergency should one occur, but this is not a difficult problem to fix; we jut need to work together.”

The health commissioner himself donated blood after Tuesday’s press conference to serve as an example to the community for the importantance of donating.

“This is how you can save a life,” Dr. Mendoza said. “It could be a stranger, a family member, or it could be you. Blood’s life span is shot an we need a steady stream of volunteers to step up,”

Joining Dr. Mendoza Tuesday at the American Red Cross Blood Donation Center in Henrietta for the event was:

  • Hanna Malak, Regional Donor Services Executive, American Red Cross
  • Dr. Aram Hezel, Chief of Division of Hematology/Oncology, UR Medicine
  • Dr. Roberto Vargas, Associate Chair of Labs and Pathology, Rochester Regional Health

“We are in critical need of blood,” Malak said. “Our call is for our community to come out, roll up your sleeve, and donate blood. Donating blood is essential to the health of the community.

“Cancer patients are the key group that need blood to be cared for,” Dr. Hezel said. “Cancer patients need transfusions. Bone marrow procedures require blood products to be successful. Blood shortages for cancer patients represent only one side of what is needed across the medical map. How can we make a difference? Giving blood is one of the most important things you can do for patients.”

“We are safe today,” Dr. Vargas said. “However, right now our surgical volume is have that what it actually is. If there was a significant catastrophe, we would not be able to respond unless we replenish our blood reserves. There is a lot of unexpected need and that is what we need to prepare. It’s hard to say when this will be a major issue, because we don’t have a specific time where we will hit the red.”

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.