NE power outage hurts blood supply -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

NE power outage hurts blood supply

August 18, 2003

Albany-- Power shortages in the north may mean blood shortages here in Southwest Georgia.

Last week's blackout is forcing the Red Cross to send surplus supplies to those cities that went without power. Without electricity those cities were not able to collect or test blood, and their blood needs could cut into our own.

Cathy Bedsole is a regular at the Albany Blood Bank. "I have O-positive blood, so every 56 days, I'm here." With people like Cathy who give blood often, it's hard to believe the shelves here are pretty much empty.

"The O-positives, O-negatives and B-positives are almost non-existent," said Dian Swafford of the Red Cross. Southwest Georgia hospitals asked for 67 units of O-positive blood Monday, but the blood bank had only 12 units to give.

"The beauty of the Red Cross is the national system helps those who are not able to fill their own needs so everybody pitches in a little bit and it goes to where it's needed," said Swafford.

So your blood donation might not be used here at home, it could end up in New York or Detroit. Let's say you donate blood here in Albany, your donation is then shipped to the regional Red Cross headquarters in Atlanta, where it's tested and labled.

From there, Red Cross workers in Saint Louis decide just where that blood is most needed, and many times it's the Southeast region. "We are usually the recipient of that generoristy, and right now there are just no extra units to come here," said Swafford.

With no extra units, the blood bank is relying on extra donors. "And I just feel like it's something small I can do for other people. People are always looking for things and say they don't have time but they do have time. Thirty minutes it's all it takes," said Cathy Bedsole.

A few minutes that could save a few lives. The Blood Bank serves 11 Southwest Georgia hospitals. So far, there have been no reports of these hospitals cancelling surgeries due to lack of blood.

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