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Six months post 9/11, blood supply below minimal levels

Blood donations are down, likely due to illness and Spring Break vacationing. In spite of an 8.5 percent increase in donations during 2001, statistics show collections are down the first quarter of 2002. Many hospital orders are unable to be filled. Daily, 700 donations are required by our community to meet patient need, and meeting this daily goal remains elusive. Patient lives are dependent upon regular, volunteer blood donors. The upcoming long Easter holiday weekend will only further the need for an adequate blood supply. As is evident from recent news reports, increased trauma has placed an additional strain on already stressed emergency medical care facilities, which could account for an increase in blood usage.

September 11, 2001, citizens of our community, like those in communities across the United States, responded to the disasters by donating blood. Sadly, the perceived need of the terrorist attack victims proved much greater than the actual need. The actual need was met by donors who had donated in Washington and New York the days and weeks before the attacks, as is typically the case in such situations. For this reason, it is imperative that those generous enough to give blood during times of disaster realize the need is constant and donate at least three times a year. The blood supplied by regular donation saves lives daily and most notably, is that which is available immediately when disaster does strike.

Locally, Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center collected more than 12,000 units of blood the seven day period following September 11, and of that amount, 99.8 percent of the red blood cells were transfused, saving thousands of lives. The short shelf lives of blood and blood components – 42 days for red blood cells and 5 days for platelets, which aid in blood clotting and are utilized most often by cancer patients – explains the need for regular donations. A regular donor donates at least three times during a calendar year.

Currently, blood donations of all types are needed and will continue to be needed each day of the year. A single donation can save as many as three lives, so donors are urged to give regularly and often.

Blood donors must be 17 years of age, weigh a minimum of 110 pounds and be in general good health.

Donors may contact the following institutional participants in the regional blood program for locations and hours of operation.
Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center (call for extended facility hours): 713-790-1200, 1-888-GV-BLOOD (1-888-482-5663),

The Methodist Hospital: 713-441-3415
St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital: 832-355-4483
UT, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center: 713-792-7777,
The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston: 409-772-4861