Thursday, June 13, 2002

Regional reserves of blood trickling

Louisville, Lexington feel summer drought

The Associated Press

        LOUISVILLE — Each drop of blood has become more precious in parts of Kentucky where demand has nearly sapped reserves.

        While local supplies are adequate, the reserves at regional blood centers in Louisville and Lexington have dipped below a one-day supply, officials said Wednesday. Blood centers ideally want a three- to five-day supply to meet emergencies.

        The shortage is so dire that the Central Kentucky Blood Center asked hospitals to temporarily postpone elective surgeries — the first such request in eight years, said center spokeswoman Marsha Berry. The Lexington center supplies hospitals in central and eastern Kentucky.

    • Call (513) 451-0910 or (800) 830-1091 to schedule an appointment.
    • Go to for information on upcoming blood drives.
        In the Tristate, blood centers have about a five to seven day supply, after Hoxworth Blood Center issued a recent emergency appeal for donations, said Michael Anderson, a spokesman for Hoxworth Blood Center. Hoxworth serves 24 hospitals in 14 Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky counties, and does not break down its blood supply by state, Mr. Anderson said.

        Although the Tristate's blood supply is at normal levels, Mr. Anderson said Hoxworth is seeking donations because blood supplies normally are at their lowest level just before the Fourth of July holiday.

        University of Kentucky Hospital took Central Kentucky's blood shortage request to heart.

        “We are complying with the Central Kentucky Blood Center, and hospital officials are actively reviewing all surgery cases to determine whether they are emergencies or whether they can be postponed,” said Tammy Gay, a spokeswoman for the hospital in Lexington.

        Ms. Berry said the request to postpone nonemergency surgeries would probably continue through Friday. The last such request occurred in January 1994 when a blizzard paralyzed the state for days.

        Ms. Berry said donations appeared to surge Wednesday, which needs to be sustained to keep pace with demand. Blood transfusions at area hospitals have risen more than 8 percent in the past two months, she said.

        “We don't think anyone should have to wait for blood or wonder if it's going to be there,” Ms. Berry said.

        In Louisville, the regional American Red Cross blood center had less than a half-day supply of all blood types Wednesday, spokeswoman Stephanie French said. The center has relied on blood shipments from other parts of the country for months to meet demand, Ms. French said.

        “Blood donations have been down all year,” she said. “We've fallen short of our needs every single month.”

        The center serves about one-third of Kentucky, from Trimble County in the north to Barren County in the south to the Henderson area in west, she said.

        “It's an extremely serious situation,” she said. “And this early in the summer we are very concerned.”

        Blood donations typically drop in summer, she said. Colleges and high schools — a main source of donations — are out of session. Vacations and summer activities can interrupt donations.

       Enquirer reporter Cindy Schroeder contributed.


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