- The Washington Times - Friday, September 21, 2001

The American Red Cross is reporting record blood donations since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, with 300,000 units collected nationally, including 12,000 from local centers.
The blood donated since the Sept. 11 attacks is twice what the Red Cross usually would have collected in this time period, said Dr. Peter Page, senior medical officer with American Red Cross. But they say that they still need more.
"This has been the greatest outpouring of public support we have ever seen," said Joy Jensen of the American Red Cross chapter of the Greater Potomac and Chesapeake region, which includes 10 donation centers in the District and parts of Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
The last time the country witnessed a large turnout was during the Gulf war, "but this time the support has been much more and it has lasted much longer," Dr. Page said.
In the two days after the attacks, people around the area waited for up to six hours in the scorching sun to donate blood. Many cited a feeling of powerlessness after the attacks, saying they wanted to help in any way they could.
The lines have since become shorter, but still more people than usual are donating blood every day, Dr. Page said, adding that many more call in daily.
The local Red Cross chapter's 800/GIVE-LIFE number which prospective donors call to schedule appointments has received more than 24,000 calls.
"That is 6,000 calls each day. Generally, we get about 300 to 400 a day," Miss Jensen said.
The support is heartening to blood banks, which say it usually is hard to prod people into donating blood.
"Everyone thinks blood is always available, but if you look inside a blood bank, you will find empty shelves," said Andrea Doering of Inova Blood Donor Services. The difficulty in obtaining blood often means hospitals have to postpone non-emergency and voluntary surgeries, she said.
But since the terrorist attacks, Inova Blood Donor Services which is affiliated with the nonprofit Inova hospital chain in Northern Virginia has received more than 2,000 blood donors at its four centers, and the prospective donor list includes as many as 4,000 more, Miss Doering said.
The centers are no longer accepting walk-ins, but are scheduling donations by appointment. While current needs have been met, spreading out donor appointments was essential because blood has a shelf life of only 42 days, she said.
Miss Doering said she hopes people who have donated blood will return to give more in two months' time 56 days is the minimum wait before a person can donate blood again "because there always is a need."
"We always have a much better rate with return donors. And we now have a large bank of donors we can send out our mailings to," she said.
The Red Cross, which has been shipping blood to New York and other hospitals around the country, says it, too, has enough for today's needs. But donors are being asked to return "because there is an ongoing need year-round."
The Red Cross is still asking for more type "O" and type "B" blood donors to step forward. "Type "O" is universal and can be used for patients with any type blood. "And we have found that type 'B' blood appears to occur more often in patients than in donors," Dr. Page said.

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