American Red Cross Addresses West Nile - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

09/22/02

American Red Cross Addresses West Nile

The American Red Cross says it will become more proactive in screening blood donors to combat the spread of West Nile Virus. Earlier this week the Centers for Disease Control announced that the virus could be transmitted through blood transfusions.

There is currently no blood test for West Nile. The Food and Drug Administration says all blood donations will likely be screened for the virus as soon as one can be developed.

On Sunday, a spokesperson for the Alabama and Central Gulf Coast Region of the American Red Cross told WLOX news its nurses will ask donors more questions about their overall health. Mary Lee Cornwell also said people who haven't been feeling well shouldn't donate blood.

The amount of blood donated here along the coast has gone up slightly. The American Red Cross says donations dropped to its lowest level in several years this summer. Officials say they're getting more blood with the start of school and the September 11th anniversary. Of course the amount of people rolling up their sleeves now is nothing like it was right after the terrorist attacks.

When the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Biloxi had it's blood drive right after the September 11th attacks, turnout was good. Since then organizers have had trouble reaching their goal 25 donations.

"I think it's because they're having so many blood drives in so many different areas and they're competing against each other some of the places," said Opal Holliman, blood drive organizer. "It's a problem of I've already gave somewhere else."

The American Red Cross says blood donations doubled after the terrorists attacks but since then the numbers have gone back to normal. Some people here believe Americans have lost their intensity for the cause.

"I think it's sad that it takes something catastrophic to make us see what's really important and we go back to doing our normal thing instead of changing our lives like we should do," said Anita Seymour.

Others believe that the war on terrorism shrunk blood donations since so many military men and women who were shipped overseas became ineligible to give. Some say the long line of donors may be gone but not the need for blood.

Regular donor Joanne Saucier said "There's still car accidents there are still babies being born needing and there's still open hearts surgeries. People need blood all the time."

by Danielle Thomas

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