Blood Centers Need Help

In blood centers across the country the traditional post holiday donor slump is taking on a new sense of urgency.

Robert l. Jones, M.D. Of the New York blood center says, "We've already cut short our shipments of type Rh- blood to the hospitals."

A wave of emerging threats to the blood supply triggers it and one of them is a newly identified risk of transfusion.

It is a rare but potentially deadly lung condition called Trali.

"Trali has now taken over as the leading cause of transfusion associated death, between about 50-100 a year that we can identify I truly believe the number is far greater," says Joseph Thomas of the Cleveland Clinic.

The culprit certain antibodies in the blood of women who have been
Pregnant.

The greatest risk is found in plasma scientists are working on screening tests.

"In some parts of the country they've nearly eliminated women donating plasma," says Thomas.

And there are new tests for infectious diseases like Chagas, a parasite based infection found mostly in Latin America.

"Every time we add a test the cost of transfusing a unit of blood goes up and is now costing our country billions of dollars to transfuse blood products," says Thomas.

An expensive safety effort that is also chipping away at the donor pool prompting many hospitals like the Cleveland Clinic to focus efforts on
Blood conservation.

Thomas explains, "We've significantly reduced our blood utilization over the hospital of 20 percent throughout the entire hospital."

There is ongoing research into blood substitutes but for now, there is no substitute for the real thing.

The addition of new tests pushes the cost for screening a unit of blood over the 50 dollar mark.

Now it is estimated that only five percent of eligible donors give blood.

If you would like to donate give the South Bend Medical Foundation's central blood bank a call at 234-1157 to set up an appointment.

They also take walk-ins in South Bend and at the Edison Lakes location in Mishawaka.


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