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01-23-03: Blood shortage critical for region
The Daily Standard
    American Red Cross officials report there is a "very critical" blood shortage nationwide.
    The national blood inventory has dropped more than 50 percent in the past two weeks, and the local supply is depleted by more than 40 percent, reads a news release from the Indiana-Ohio Blood Region, headquartered in Fort Wayne, Ind., which serves Mercer and Auglaize counties.
    Surgeries are not being canceled and hospitals are receiving enough blood for patient needs, but the blood supply must increase to continue meeting patient needs, the release continues.
    "We are usually low over the holidays anyway and in January we try to recoup, but we're not doing it. The shortage is bad and unexpected," reports nurse Kathy Mutter, donor recruitment representative for the Indiana-Ohio region.
    The local office reports Type O blood inventory is at a one-day supply and total blood inventory is less than a two-day supply.
    "But we don't care what your blood type is, we need it all," Mutter said.  The Indiana-Ohio Blood Region must collect nearly 450 units of blood daily to meet the needs of all area hospitals. Minimum supply is three days and blood banks have been operating at less than a three-day supply since December.    
    "It is not unusual to be low this time of year, but not this low. We never really got ahead of the blood shortage from last summer," said Cindy Brunswick, director of the Mercer County Chapter of the American Red Cross.
    December traditionally is a low month when it comes to giving blood, Mutter added, attributing the drop to holiday and family events. January's cold weather has played havoc with blood drives this year, she added, and military activation also is listed as a shortage cause.
    "Last week I had two blood drives that were affected by faulty furnaces. In Van Wert, the furnace went out where we were set up and we had to shut down and at another place in Logansport, we ended up canceling the drive altogether because their furnace wasn't working," Mutter said.
    Emergency blood drives are being held, and Mercer County residents are doing their part to help alleviate the shortage.
    A bloodmobile on wheels, the Indiana-Ohio Blood Region van, was set up outside the local chapter's West Market Street office in Celina on Tuesday as an emergency blood drive, Red Cross representatives said.
    Although there is a shortage, Mercer County residents traditionally have been forthcoming in donating blood. Mutter praised the area's generosity.
    "Mercer County has the highest blood donor population per capita. They donate more blood per capita than any of the 38 counties in the region and have for years," she said.
    The chapter's blood drive on Jan. 15 at the St. Henry American Legion netted just over the goal of 140 units of blood and a recent drive in Coldwater netted 146 units, above the goal of 135.
    "We were very pleased with the results," Brunswick said, "But we need people to keep giving."
    In Mercer County 50-60 drives are conducted annually and in Auglaize County, 35-plus.
    The majority of donated blood, 60 percent, is through community blood drives, Mutter reported, while businesses contribute 25-30 percent and high school and college students, 10 percent.
    In an ironic twist to the nation's blood supply capacity, in October 2001, the American Red Cross was canceling blood drives because of an overabundance of donated blood.
    The sharp increase in blood donations occurred after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and blood centers throughout the United States did not have enough freezer space for the donations.
    "But they weren't canceling because there was too much blood," Lela Siebert, the local chairperson for the blood services, had explained to The Daily Standard at that time. "They had just ran out of freezer space for the donated blood at the blood service centers."
    Freezers allow blood to be frozen for use up to 10 years. Shelf life for donated blood is 42 days.
    The next local blood drive will be Feb. 3 at the Mary Help of Christians Catholic Church in Fort Recovery, from noon to 6 p.m.
    Possible donors must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good general health. Appointments usually are suggested at the bloodmobiles, but walk-ins always will be taken.


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