Saturday, August 14, 1999

Hoxworth goes begging for blood

Supply for Labor Day looks bleak

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Hoxworth Blood Center collected 650 units of blood Wednesday and 457 units Thursday as its emergency appeal for donors continued.

        The increased donations, combined with 464 units collected Tuesday, have wiped out a 400-unit shortfall in type O blood that triggered the crisis.

        However, the blood bank continues its appeal.

Local donations always low
        A handful of blood drive cancellations has projections looking weak for next week. Hoxworth also remains “very concerned” about blood supplies for the Labor Day weekend, said spokeswoman Marsha Terry.

        The good news about the emergency appeal underscores the bigger need for sustained increases in donation rates.

        Hoxworth spends more than $1 million a year buying blood from other cities because local donations don't keep up with demand — and that number has been going up.

        In fiscal 1998, Hoxworth spent $1,245,077 importing blood. In fiscal 1999 (ended June 30), Hoxworth spent $1,522,184 importing blood — an increase of 22 percent.

        Ideally, Hoxworth shouldn't be spending a dime importing blood, Ms. Terry said.

        “That's the problem with blood. People hear about a crisis, they re spond, then they think it's all over,” Ms. Terry said. “But they forget that we need to collect 300 units a day, every day.”

        Hoxworth's difficulties reflect a difficult summer in blood collections nationwide, said Melissa McMillan, a spokeswoman for America's Blood Centers, a network of 73 blood banks that accounts for about 47 percent of the nation's blood supply.

Other cities hurting, too
        In addition to Cincinnati, blood banks in New York City; Dallas; Tampa, Fla.; Pensacola, Fla.; and Lexington, Ky., are running special appeals for blood, she said. Several more have reported sharp increases in blood demand, but have not needed to launch special appeals.

        “We're barely getting by right now. The blood supply system is so fragile that one impact in one city can have ripple effects across the country,” Ms. McMillan said.

        Hoxworth's neighborhood blood centers will be open extended hours through Monday, except Sunday. Hoxworth's Bloodmobiles will accept “walk-up” donations at several locations over the next several days.

        For more information about donating blood, call 451-0910 or (800) 830-1091.


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