Blood Supplies Are Dropping - - The News for South Mississippi

Blood Supplies Are Dropping

The chairs at the Red Cross office in Biloxi sit empty much of the time. Vials and other blood supplies are all ready to go, but there are few donors to use them. Nurses search for things to keep them occupied.

"We've cleaned about as much as we can clean and reorganized and we do need the blood donors to come back," Red Cross nurse Laura Hojem said.

Following the terrorist attacks, hundreds of people on the coast turned out to give blood. People were more than happy to stand in line to do what they could to help their country, but Red Cross officials say that surge in donations only lasted about a month.

"We really saw donations drop off even more this year with the holidays, so now we are really starting to see the results of that," Red Cross Communications Coordinator Mary Lee Conwell said.

As of Friday, the Red Cross Gulf Coast Region, which includes the Mississippi coast, plus parts of Alabama and Florida had just two pints of O negative blood in the supply. That's scary because O negative can be given to anyone, and that's what hospitals use in emergency situations.

"We have about a half day inventory which means that if something happens, a big train wreck, a car pileup on the highway, that universal blood type just isn't here and we really, really need it," Conwell said.

Blood donations on the coast are slightly lower than the national average. The Red Cross is trying to increase the numbers by encouraging people to make it a habit to give three times a year. They say the surge in donations after September 11th proves available blood donors are out there.

"The donors were so good about coming out in the weeks following the tragedy and we need them to understand that there's tragedies every day, people who are in need every day," Hojem said.

There are two community blood drives on the coast this year. On Monday, the Red Cross will be at Singing River Mall from two to five. On Friday, there's a blood drive at Sears at Edgewater Mall from one until five.

By Amanda Jones

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