Puerto Rico’s Metro is reporting this morning that the American Red Cross will no longer be collecting blood in Puerto Rico, ceasing this part of their organization’s operations and leaving more than 200 people without jobs. According to the report, the American Red Cross will still maintain its other services, which include emergency services during hurricanes and emergency therapy services in hospitals.
The organization said that the decision was made because there was already an excess of blood collected in the mainland United States, forcing the Puerto Rico operations to become a distribution center that would only receive that blood from the U.S.
Antionio de Vera, head of the American Red Cross blood donation services in Puerto Rico, appeared on the island’s local Univision affiliate this morning to share the news. Fighting back tears and trying to stay calm, De Vera said, “Now I have to look at my employee’s faces and give them this news. I was as surprised by the news as much as anyone else. Puerto Rico and Univision have broken all the one-day blood collection records in the United States. The Puerto Rican people have always reacted positively to the what had been asked of them.”
He also said, “[The American Red Cross] pretends and hopes that this plan will now fill the needs of local hospitals. It is very difficult, because we just closed the best year in the history of the Red Cross in Puerto Rico. This year we will collect 80,000 pints. The team has done an incredible job, and how I have to let them go.”
De Vera also said that the American Red Cross had always wanted to close operations in Puerto Rico because “everything needed to get translated into Spanish, because our donors are Hispanic. The blood is the same. Blood knows no nation. It has nothing to do with a person’s nationality. I appreciate what the Puerto Rican people have done in response for the call to donate blood. We have made this local chapter number one in this nation.”