BAY AREA: Blood Supply Dangerously Low
Blood levels at Bay Area blood banks are exceptionally low, especially on the Peninsula, where elective surgeries may have to be canceled and blood given only on an emergency basis, the San Jose Mercury News reports. The Peninsula's local bank, part of Blood Centers of the Pacific, yesterday reported having only a half-day's supply of the "universal donor" type O blood. The bank usually has 125 units each of O-negative and O- positive; currently only 20 units of each are available. Other blood types are also in short supply, and other parts of the Bay Area, including South Bay and East Bay, are affected. The San Jose chapter of the American Red Cross has only 226 units of O- positive, compared to their normal 800 units. Josie Murphy of the Red Cross said, "Anytime we get less than 100 percent of what hospitals need, we start digging a hole that is tough to get out of." Lisa Bloch of Blood Centers of the Pacific warned that if a major emergency occurred now, area blood banks would be "hard pressed to deal with the situation." She added, "Anytime the blood supply is this low, we keep our fingers crossed that there is not a major disaster." Low turnout around the holidays and a general decrease in donation are two reasons given for the shortage. A Red Cross blood drive on Monday yielded only 28% of what hospitals required that day, Murphy said (Krieger, 1/5). Also contributing to the shortage is the fact that many people are afflicted with the flu this time of year and a nationwide blood bank depletion. Nevertheless, Blood Centers of the Pacific did receive an emergency shipment yesterday from the American Red Cross to help fill the need (Curiel, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.