The United States' blood supply is critically low, the American Red Cross reported last week. Major cities are hardest hit, including New York, Los
Angeles, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Detroit, and Washington, D.C.
Disaster relief organizations say when blood shortages arise, they get just as involved. "As (Church World Service) people we at times become involved with all aspects of
disaster. If there was a blood shortage in an area, we would then encourage the interfaith to put the word out to their congregations," said Joann Hale, a Church World Service
(CWS) disaster resource consultant.
The blood shortage makes any demand during an emergency much harder to meet. "Patients who need blood in emergency situations absolutely depend on a readily available
supply," said Red Cross President and CEO Dr. Bernadine Healy. "A blood shortage is a disaster, and we need the same level of public support for this disaster as we do for a
hurricane, tornado, flood, or fire." The summer is usually a low supply time for the country because high schools, universities, and colleges are not in session. This group makes
up fifteen percent of the Red Cross' collection during the non-summer months.
Linnea Anderson of the Red Cross of Central Maryland said they're trying to step up recruitment efforts during the shortage to get the blood supplies back to normal. "We do
try to get notice out before the shortages happen, but many don't take notice until the cupboard is bare, until it's an alarming thing," said Anderson.
St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore reports that it has been feeling the crunch quite a bit, though. The hospital receives all its blood from the Red Cross and said while they have been
able to meet all needs, their supplies have been low. Methodist Hospitals of Dallas said they've been experiencing a general shortage of blood all year but have had no major
problems. "So far we've been able to meet all demands," said Gary Morey of the hospital. "We don't expect anything bad to happen this summer though, either."
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