Red Cross Calls for Blood Donations in Wake of Terrorist Attacks; HIV Screening Could Take Longer Than Normal
Following yesterday's terrorist attacks on New York City's World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Americans have been lining up across the country to donate blood to help victims. However, screening procedures for HIV, hepatitis and other diseases could slow down the process of getting the blood to those in need, the Tallahassee Democrat reports. Screening for HIV and other diseases usually takes 24 hours, but due to the influx of donations around the country, the screening process could take longer, Robert de Jongh, technical director for the Southeastern Community Blood Center in Tallahassee, said (Burlew, Tallahassee Democrat, 9/12). The Chicago Tribune reports that it could be two to three days before donated blood reaches patients due to the necessary screening procedures (Keilman/Manier, Chicago Tribune, 9/12). In Washington, D.C., naval medical officials were collecting "several hundred" HIV testing kits from area hospitals to test donated blood. Red Cross officials in the Washington area said that the local blood supply is "adequate," but people are encouraged to donate if they can (Ramstack, Washington Times, 9/12). In other parts of the nation, donors "overwhelmed" blood centers, seeking to contribute blood to victims in New York, where a shortage has been felt for months. Susan Sponar, spokesperson for the Red Cross of the Penn-Jersey region, asked people to continue donating, noting that the blood supply is perishable and that a person can only give blood every 56 days. "What's really important is a steady supply," she added. National Red Cross spokesperson Peter Macias echoed that sentiment, saying he foresaw a "continuing need for blood for a long time for victims of the disaster." To set up an appointment with the Red Cross or for the donation center nearest you, call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE (Bauers, Philadelphia Inquirer, 9/12).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.