THE price of blood going up

Friday, May 25th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

It's a cost of living increase that only affects a few, but could cost your family in an emergency. The price of blood is going up, as much as 25%.

KOTV's Emory Bryan says the Red Cross relies on volunteer donors to refresh the blood supply. People like CD Baker, who has donated more than a gallon; help keep costs as low as possible. "I give it away for free. I know somebody needs it and I hope I won't ever be in that situation but if I am, then I would be really thankful that somebody came in and gave." But even a free supply has costs involved. Every unit of blood, just one pint, undergoes more than a dozen tests for safety. Maggie Jewell, American Red Cross: "The nations blood supply has never been safer, but we have recently added a test and a process that further ensures the safety of blood." The new test is expensive, and that cost is being passed on to customers, hospitals, and their patients. It doesn't affect the supply, which is always low, just the price hospitals have to pay. "Here in Tulsa, it's about $117, the Red Cross price and that will be going up to about $146."

The new price reflects additional costs to filter and test blood. White cells are filtered out to decrease rejection. Tests are done for AIDS and hepatitis and syphilis. The tests and questions for donors result in a 6% rejection rate for donated blood. The new prices take effect in July, a major increase for a life saving product. Tulsa hospitals won't pay more immediately, because they have contracts in place with a set price.

The Red Cross supplies most Tulsa hospitals. All will eventually pay more, because other blood suppliers are increasing their prices as well.