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Blood shortages at hospitals

Inside Doctors Hospital’s temperature-controlled cooler yesterday were only two units of O-positive blood and two units of O-negative blood. Four units were the extent of their supply in a hospital where blood is crucial for dialysis and cancer patients.

Meanwhile, at the Princess Margaret Hospital, blood bank supervisor Everett Miller said gun shot victims and victims of traffic accidents are largely the recipients of their blood cache, and the reason why it is extremely depleted.

Miller insisted that during the past 12 months, the hospital has struggled to keep a steady supply of blood available, though he did not attribute it to any particular type of injury or trauma.

“We have been having a lot of gun shot wounds, traffic accidents and other cases requiring blood and blood products,”said Miller.”Especially over the last 12 months, we have had a very challenging 2010.”

While trauma victims are unexpected consumers of blood, those who need it regulary–like those cancer and dialysis patients–are seeing supplies dwindle away, Medical Technologist for Doctor’s Hospital’s Blood Bank Donette Been toldThe Nassau Guardianyesterday. Dialysis patients visit the hospital to have their blood cleaned, sometimes up to three times per week.

“Dialysis and cancer patients are in desperate need of new supplies of blood at Doctors Hospital,”Been said.”Right now we only have two O-positive units and two O-negative units and that by no means is good enough for us to service this hospital and this country.”

Miller said blood donations declined last year, yet more replacement donors, who donate to a specific recipient(often a family member or close friend), are still donating.

He insisted that people simply have not been responding to the calls to donate.

“We don’t buy and we don’t sell blood and it only lasts for 35 days,”said Miller.”We need fresh blood.”

Both Miller and Been said one unit/pint of blood, which is an average donation, is able to help three individuals after it is separated into three components–plasma, platelets and red blood cells.

They both also insisted that the process of donating blood is short, easy and painless, and only requires that the person is healthy, fills out a short questionnaire and has not received a tattoo within one year. Individuals can donate up to eight times per year or every four weeks.

“We are desperate,”said Been.

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