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Blood supplies down in Greater Alleghenies Region

June 12, 2002|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

The Washington County chapter of the American Red Cross is sponsoring a six-hour bloodmobile at the Valley Mall beginning at noon today.

Also today, Washington County employees can give blood at the new annex at 80 W. Baltimore St. from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"We are actually down to less than a half-day supply of some blood types," said Teresa Elwood, director of blood services for the local chapter. "I can't ever remember things being this bad."

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A veteran of 15 years with the agency, Elwood said she just had her worst January through March quarter for blood donations in recent years.

"It's a combination of factors," she said. "The number of high school students giving blood is down and they are usually our biggest donors."

Another problem is that an unusually high number of people are being turned down because of low iron, Elwood said.

"People who want to donate blood should drink lots of fluids like fruit juices, eat a lot of dark, leafy vegetables and good quality meats to improve iron in the blood," Elwood said. "And stay off caffeine, too."

Another bloodmobile will be held Monday from noon to 5 p.m. at St. John's Episcopal Church.

Hagerstown, Washington County, and parts of Pennsylvania and West Virginia are in the Greater Alleghenies Region headquartered in Johns-town, Pa.

During May, the region achieved only 86 percent of its scheduled blood collection goal. Over the past few months, supplies of some blood types have dwindled to a half day while others are at a day and a half, Elwood said.

"We are not prepared to meet any and all patient needs with the current inventory," said Tim Miller, senior director of regional donor services. That means some surgeries or other transfusion-related treatments might have to be postponed or canceled, he said.

While donations are down, Miller said demand for blood and blood products increased 1.35 percent during the first five months of 2002.

Anyone who is at least 17 years old, weighs at least 105 pounds and is in generally good health may donate blood.

For more information on how and where to donate blood, call 301-739-0717.

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