Red Cross Appeals for Blood

Monday, December 31st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Just months after a post-Sept. 11 surge of blood donations, the American Red Cross is warning that supplies are running low.

Most of the Red Cross' 36 regional blood centers have half their normal supply of blood platelets for this time of year, officials said Wednesday. Blood platelets, which are used to help stop bleeding in cancer patients, spoil after five days.

Blood and platelet supplies are typically low during the holiday season, with Americans on vacation or busy shopping.

But platelet levels were unusually low, with 32 regions having only about a half-day supply, said Susan Kluesner, a spokeswoman for the St. Paul, Minn.-based North Central Blood Services of the American Red Cross.

As baby boomers age and organ transplants and other demanding procedures become more routine, the need for blood continues to rise.

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks prompted a blood-giving rush so big that some places ran out of storage capacity and blood spoiled. In the end, little blood was needed because there were relatively few injured survivors in the attacks.

Still, the rush of donations had Red Cross officials trying to figure out how to convert the donors into regulars.

In western Pennsylvania, workers began faxing radio stations, sending postcards to people with Type O negative blood and calling the 12,000 people on a ``donor rapid response team'' list compiled after Sept. 11.

Most Red Cross regions have a two-day supply of Type O negative, which is about average during the holidays, Kluesner said. Type O negative is often used to help trauma victims because it mixes with blood of any type.