Critical blood shortage present

By Trina Trice

The American Red Cross is concerned about having enough blood for the Fourth of July weekend.

More than 3,000 car accidents and 700 injuries occurred last year during the July 4th holiday period, according to the Georgia Department of Motor Vehicles.

Candice Gulden, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross Blood Services, Southern Region, said officials would like to feel more prepared for a holiday that could result in high emergency room visits.

Those numbers "are scary when you're going into a period like the Fourth of July," Gulden said. "You know people are going out in cars and in boats.

"It's important to have a five-day supply (of blood) on the shelf, which we don't have," she said. "We do not collect enough blood to cover Georgia."

The holiday comes when a threat of a dangerously low blood supply had already been looming for hospitals covered by the ARC Southern Region, which include Southern Regional, South Fulton, and Henry medical centers.

Jim Wallen, supervisor of Blood Transfusion Services at Southern Regional, doesn't think the hospital is in danger of any shortage, however.

"Our supply appears to be pretty normal, which is odd during the summer," he said. "Our O positive supply is at normal levels. Our O negative supply is a little bit decreased, but it's not drastic.

Type O blood, positive and negative, is used extensively in trauma centers and for newborns.

According to the Red Cross Southern Region, Georgia has less than a day's supply of all blood types and the supply of both type O blood is so small that they are being saved for hospitals with extremely critical situations.

"For weeks, we have been moving our shrinking supply of type O blood between hospitals to try to take care of the greatest emergencies and now there is simply not enough to move around," said Grady Braziel, chief operations officer of the Red Cross Blood Service Southern Region. "Even though we have been appealing to the public for blood donations, we still are not collecting enough and hospitals have even less blood on their shelves. This is a very bad situation."

To build the low blood supply the Atlanta Braves and the Red Cross are holding the "All-American Blood Drives" all over the state today, Friday and Saturday.

The Red Cross Southern Region's total blood supply will last less than two days. In addition to the All-American Drive, blood drives will continue throughout the week to replace the blood inventory.

There is a need for 1200 donors to give blood every weekday in order for the Red Cross to have enough blood to serve patients in need of life-saving transfusions.

The All-American Drives locations are as follows:

Gwinnett Place Mall, Lower level, next to Johnny Rockets; Northlake Mall, Lower level, near JC Penney; Discover Mills, Across from BLACKLION; and Town Center Mall, Lower Level, Center Court.

Time is from noon to 5 p.m.

Donor Center Locations are:

Alpharetta Donor Center, 3000 Old Alabama Road, Suite 110?at Old Alabama and Haynes Bridge roads.

Duluth Donor Center, 3090 Premiere Pkwy., Suite 500?at Sugarloaf & Meadows Church Road.

Cobb Donor Center, 2145 Roswell Road?in East Lake Shopping Center.

Monroe Drive Donor Center, 1925 Monroe Drive NE?Georgia Interstate 85 & Monroe Drive.

South Metro Donor Center, 675 Southeast Parkway, Suite 120?across from Garden Ridge in Stockbridge.