Blood shortage spurs appeal

December 23, 1993|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,Staff Writer

Reacting to a critical blood shortage, state National Guard officials yesterday urged Guard members and other state residents to donate blood during the holiday season.

Within the next two weeks, the blood demand in the Baltimore-Washington area will be 4,000 pints greater than the supply, according to the Red Cross. Gov. William Donald Schaefer joined Red Cross and National Guard officials in launching an emergency blood drive dubbed "Operation Give Life."

"We need people to donate blood immediately, or people's lives will potentially be in jeopardy," Mr. Schaefer said during a news conference at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. "It could be one of your relatives that is hurt on the highway this season, one of your relatives that gets shot on the street and needs blood later."

David L. Simms, chief executive officer of the American Red Cross Greater Chesapeake and Potomac Blood Services said, "the supply of blood in the region is dwindling to near-crisis proportion." He said the Red Cross has been running particularly low in type O negative blood and platelets.

Mr. Simms said shortages also exist in Red Cross regions with headquarters in Norfolk, Va., and in the Pennsylvania cities of Philadelphia, Wilkes-Barre and Johnstown.

He said the Baltimore-Washington area runs a chronic shortage and consistently imports blood from other areas of the country to keep up with demand. But shortages in other parts of the country have cut off the supply, he said.

Without restocking soon, local hospitals will have to make up shortages by shifting supplies among themselves, wherever the need is greatest, said Red Cross spokeswoman Leni Uddyback.

"We're excited to be able to offer help in a time of need," said Brig. Gen. Donald B. Barshay, assistant adjutant general of the Maryland Air National Guard. "A gift of life is the finest gift that many of us can give."

Three National Guard armories will be open today from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for Guard members and others who want to give blood. They are the Harry C. Ruhl Armory, 1035 York Road, Towson; Greenbelt Armory, 7100 Greenbelt Road, Greenbelt; and White Oak Armory, 1220 Cherry Hill Road, Silver Spring. For more information call the American Red Cross at 1-800-GIVEBLOOD.

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