Southern California in ‘Worst’ Blood Shortage Situation Since 1981
Southern California is experiencing the "worst" regional blood shortage the region has seen since 1981, Southern California Red Cross officials said yesterday, the Los Angeles Times reports. The Red Cross yesterday issued their fourth blood-shortage warning "in less than two years." The situation has become "so critical" that supplies of type O are "down to a four-hour cushion" and other types are so low that hospitals are "regularly" postponing elective surgeries. Some hospitals have begun to rely on their own blood supplies, composed of donations from patients and family members. According to doctors, it is only "blind luck" that no deaths or injuries have occurred as a result of the shortage, the Times reports. Dr. Ross Herron, medical director for the American Red Cross blood services in Southern California, said, "We've been limping along and surviving day by day. We need all eligible Southern Californians to step up and donate now." Although donations have "steadily increased over the years," demand is "winning out," the Times reports. But the donor pool has been reduced by the summer holiday season and could be further reduced if donor restrictions recommended by an FDA advisory panel to prevent the spread of mad cow disease from Europe are approved. The Times reports that if the FDA approves the restrictions, the number of available Southern California donors could be reduced by 8%. The Red Cross is "concerned" that some people might be "tired of hearing blood appeals" and thus are less likely to respond to them. To attract more donors, the Red Cross has purchased television time to run recruitment advertisements in Los Angeles and around the nation. Previously, the agency had "relied" on free public service ads (Hernandez, Los Angeles Times, 6/29).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.