Blood Bank Industry, Health Officials Call For Donations
Posted July 10, 2003 6:30 a.m. EDT
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — The blood banking industry has an emergency of its own. Officials claim the situation is so dire that some hospitals are worried supplies may "bleed" dry.
Cape Fear Valley's
Blood Donor Center is so short on donations that it is calling its regulars to see if they can make an extra trip in. With the Fourth of July holiday, donations are down 75 percent. Officials said they just have a one-day supply of type O blood left.
According to the American Association of Blood Banks and the Red Cross, it is a similar situation across the country, which means local hospitals have nowhere to buy extra blood when their donations are short.
"A major trauma that someone would use a lot of blood, we aren't prepared for it. [It's] not just in our community. It's nationwide and statewide," said Mary Fisher, of the Cape Fear Valley Blood Donor Center.
Officials said the shortage is not a problem that can be cured overnight. Donated blood takes two days to be processed, so going into the weekend, they already know this is all they have.
Officials said there are several reasons for the blood shortage. There are new restrictions on people who travel out of country. There are also new questions on West Nile virus and the smallpox vaccine on the donor questionnaire. On top of all that, more people are driving rather than flying, which officials said translates into more accidents.
Donor Gary Parish said everyone should be concerned.
"There's a need for it and you never know when your family may need it," he said.
Many blood banks have extended their hours to give donors more time to roll up their sleeves. Officials said if things do not improve, some local hospitals may postpone elective surgeries.