Blood supplies dangerously low - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Blood supplies dangerously low

September 5, 2002

Albany-- If you were in a serious car wreck, and needed 30 units of blood to survive, you might be out of luck. That's according to the Red Cross, who is facing its most severe shortage in years. As of this morning, the Albany donation center had only 4 units of the universal blood type, O-negative, to share between the dozen hospitals it supplies.

The freezer at the Albany Red Cross is usually full of units of life giving blood. These days, the shelves stay empty, and technicians are desperately juggling what few units they have between needy Southwest Georgia hospitals. Hospital Services Supervisor Dian Swafford says, "It is much more stressful, you try hard to meet the needs, be fair, its an amazing juggling act."

Being fair means providing large hospitals with only one-third of the blood supply they want, and smaller ones with sometimes less. While workers pack what precious blood they do have to send off, there are worries that it won't be enough in an emergency. Swafford says, "Those little fender benders are not all small, they can result in massive trauma that can require a lot of blood. If someone needs 20-30 units to live, right now we don't have it."

So why don't they have it? The answer is simple. Swafford says, "Part of it is the typical summer slow down and fact of holiday weekend where use is up and donations are down." But, donations are severely down, and if people do not soon return to the tables to give blood, the problem will get worse.

The Southwest Georgia Blood Bank needs O-positive, O-negative and B-bloods. The blood shortage is statewide, and right now, the Blood Bank in Albany is only getting about half of what its asking for from the Atlanta supply station.

Posted at 4:05 p.m. by melissa.kill@walb.com

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