Shortfalls prompt Red Cross to schedule more blood drives

December 16, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

American Red Cross workers hope to pick up the pace of blood drives locally to make up for cancellations of other blood drives because of bad weather.

"We lost between 65-75 units from the South Hagerstown High School bloodmobile that was canceled last Friday because schools were closed," said Teresa Elwood, blood services chairman for the Washington County Red Cross chapter.

On Monday, Elwood was at Citicorp where an in-house drive was being held. "I'm here trying to recruit as many donors as I can," she said.


Also Monday, a blood drive was held at St. John's Episcopal Church in Hagerstown.

Blood supplies are down across the board, but particularly for Type O negative, of which there is less than a day's supply on the shelves, said John Nobiletti, medical officer for the 100-county Greater Alleghenies region, which includes much of the Tri-State area.

A combination of wintry weather, an early appearance of the flu, holiday activities and a hepatitis A outbreak in Western Pennsylvania are being blamed for the shortages.

Potential donors who are ill with flu-like symptoms can not give until they are well. Also, anyone who ate at the Chi-Chi's restaurant at a mall in Monaca, Pa., between Sept. 1 and Nov. 2 may not give blood for a full year because of a hepatitis outbreak there, Nobiletti said.

Washington County Hospital hasn't had to reschedule any elective surgeries because of the blood supply crisis.

"We are still proceeding with all scheduled procedures," Maureen Theriault, hospital spokeswoman, said Monday.

To ease the current crunch, Red Cross officials encourage the public to take time out to donate blood at upcoming blood drives, including:

  • Wednesday from noon to 6 p.m. at Valley Mall in Halfway.

  • Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Independent Fire Co., Charles Town, W.Va.; or from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Bunker Hill (W.Va.) Presbyterian Church.

  • Monday, Dec. 22, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Jefferson Memorial Hospital, Ranson, W.Va.; from 2 to 7 p.m., Shepherdstown (W.Va.) Fire Hall; or from 1 to 7 p.m. at Funkstown American Legion Post 211.

  • Wednesday, Dec. 24, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Trinity Episcopal Church, Martinsburg, W.Va.; or from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Valley Mall in Hagerstown.

Individuals in generally good health, 17 or older and weighing at least 105 pounds may donate blood as often as every eight weeks.

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