Wanted: Blood Critical shortages: Federal shutdowns, vacations conspire to cause emergency situation.

August 09, 1996

THE MARYLAND REGION faces a critical blood shortage that could turn into a full-blown crisis if blood donations do not increase in coming weeks.

The Greater Chesapeake and Potomac Red Cross Center is collecting 800 to 900 units of blood a day instead of the 1,300 to 1,500 it needs. If this continues, the Red Cross will be running a 4,400-unit deficit by the end of this month. At that point, the governor would be asked to mobilize blood collection efforts and the Red Cross would campaign for donations by telephone and mail around the clock.

This crisis can be averted if everyone eligible to give blood -- anyone 17 years and older who weighs at least 110 pounds and meets health requirements -- does so now. The process takes only an hour and carries no risk of disease transmission. A blood drive is being held near you nearly every day, perhaps in the building where you work. You may also give blood at six regional donor centers, including one at 4700 Mount Hope Drive in Baltimore; two in Baltimore County, at 1134 York Road in Lutherville and 8114 Sandpiper Circle in White Marsh; and one in Bel Air at Bright Oaks Courtyard on Emmorton Road. To find out where drives are scheduled or to make an appointment, call 1-800-GIVE-BLOOD.

The Red Cross typically experiences difficulty keeping up with blood needs in summer. This week, it issued an urgent appeal for donors in New England. During summer, people travel more, donate less, get injured more. The situation is unusually acute here this year because regional inventories were low before the season started due to the federal shutdowns. When the government went out of business temporarily, so did Red Cross blood collection drives scheduled in federal offices. This weakened supplies for the Chesapeake region, which extends from northern Virginia into Pennsylvania.

Many of us will be hard-pressed to find even an hour to donate before the summer ends. But imagine a loved one in a hospital waiting for the blood that might mean the difference between life and death. One donation -- a little less than a pint -- can save three to four lives. Think about Shock-Trauma patients, who can need 100 units of blood in a few hours. Isn't it worth a little inconvenience today to rescue someone -- perhaps even ourselves -- tomorrow?

Pub Date: 8/09/96

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