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Blood donors needed as summer slump hits early

May 08, 2002|BY MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

Heading into the traditional summer slump for blood donations with no cushion is scary but it's reality, according to the director of disaster services at the American Red Cross in Washington County.

"And we are afraid it's only going to get worse," Cindy Blackstock Kline said.

Blood donations tend to decrease after the Memorial Day holiday and usually don't return to normal until early September. But this year, donations already have begun to drop off dramatically, said Tina Stover, with American Red Cross donor resources in Johnstown, Pa.

Supplies of O-negative have dropped below a one-day supply and other types such as O-positive, A-positive, A-negative and B-negative are down to just over a one-day supply, Stover said.

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A five-day inventory of all blood types is ideal, according to American Red Cross standards.

Area hospitals, especially trauma centers like Washington County Hospital, need O-negative blood, which is the universal blood type and can be transfused into all patients.

Similarly, O-positive blood can be transfused to all Rh-positive patients.

"We have had to go get blood from Johnstown, Pa." at times, said Dr. Tom Gilbert, chairman of emergency medicine at Washington County Hospital. "It comes by helicopter, if the weather permits, but we would have to wait for hours."

Because of post-donation review of records and infectious disease screenings, between 36 to 48 hours elapse from time of donation until blood can be released to more than 100 hospitals - including Washington County Hospital - served by the Red Cross Greater Alleghenies region.

Kline said a hospital's supply of a particular blood type could be wiped out by one patient.

Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs a blood transfusion. In the Greater Alleghenies Region, at least 1,050 units must be collected each weekday to meet the need.

Potential blood donors must be at last 17 years old, weigh at least 105 pounds and be in generally good health. Normally, people can give blood every 56 days.

The bloodmobile will be at the following locations:

- The Valley Mall in Hagerstown, today, noon to 6 p.m.

- The Quad Graphics computer classroom in Martinsburg, W.Va., Thursday, noon to 6 p.m.

- The Smithsburg Fire Hall, Monday, 1 to 7 p.m.

For more information call 1-800-732-0382.

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