Volume 91, Issue 26

Wednesday, October 15, 1997

Country Club road


Province's blood supply dropping

By Ian C. Robertson
Gazette Staff

The London Red Cross agency ran low on blood supplies over the weekend after donating units to Toronto hospitals in attempts to cure a critical shortage in the province.

Tim Manley, manager of blood donor recruitment for Southwestern Ontario, said hospitals serviced by his agency had to cancel some elective surgeries to make sure there would be enough blood units available on reserve to accommodate an increase in traumas on holiday weekends.

He said most agencies in the surrounding Toronto area have sent blood to the Red Cross Toronto Blood Centre to help with the particularly low supply of O-negative and A-negative blood.

In the last two weeks, the southwestern agency has sent 180 units to Toronto but can not leave themselves low in supply.

The southwestern agency services 31 hospitals and normally has 700 to 800 units of blood on hand. "However, after a trauma-filled weekend and shipments to Toronto we now find ourselves down to 550 units," Manley said.

Chris Meyer, manager of the Red Cross Toronto Blood Centre, said their supplies are low in all types of blood, but particularly the units of O-negative. She explained no one hospital is particularly impacted by the shortage as the blood units are distributed evenly.

Mary Ferguson, director of public affairs for the Red Cross in Ontario, said extra clinics and extended hours have been set up in Toronto to compensate for the shortage.

In addition to the increase in weekend traumas, she said the shortage can also be attributed to people not having enough time in their schedules to donate. Ferguson added the current scare surrounding tainted blood in Red Cross banks has not affected donations as yearly statistics on the number of donors have remained the same.

Ferguson said due to the fluid nature of the demand for blood, the exact length and when a shortage will occur is impossible to predict. She said Toronto shortages will generally always be more significant than London's due to a greater number of hospitals serviced and not necessarily more donors to coincide.

Manley said the southwestern agency has not felt the need yet to launch an emergency drive and said they will help Toronto as long as it is safe for them to do so.

A regular blood drive will be taking place at Saugeen-Maitland Hall at Western on Monday Oct. 20 from 5-9 p.m..

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Copyright The Gazette 1997