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Hospitals feel pinch of low blood supply

A call is going out around the state to healthy people over 17years old who can give blood and join the fight against a severeshortage in the Mississippi.

“We’re not halting any orders yet, but what we’re sending thehospitals is very limited,” said Dani Edmonson, spokesperson forMississippi Blood Services. “If a hospital is expecting 10 pints,they might get two or three.”

The critical shortage has affected every hospital in the stateas even smaller hospitals have almost empty blood labs with aholiday just around the corner.

“We’re in dire need of O negative,” said Janet Leach, a labtechnician at King’s Daughters Medical Center. “I think we’repretty OK on other units, but we don’t have any O negative.”

The hospital usually carries as many units of O negative aspossible since it is the universal blood, meaning it can be used byanyone. The KDMC blood lab also typically has about 20 units of Opositive, but is now down to just 10 pints.

Elective surgeries often call for around four pints of blood,and major traumas can use several pints in just minutes.

“No one is canceling elective surgeries, but they may have to ifpeople don’t get out and donate,” said Edmonson.

She also fears accidents often associated with New Year’s Evecelebrations could be detrimental to the blood supply.

“There’s definitely a potential increase in use for the upcomingholiday, and we’ve got to make sure we have all the types,” saidEdmonson.

MBS, the state’s major supplier, averages having around 700units of blood. The supply is now down to less than 100 pints.

The main reasons for the blood supply diminishing recently isbecause of an increased usage and a decrease in the number ofdonors, said Edmonson.

“The problem is that a lot of regular donors are sick and notable to give, so we need people who are healthy to come in anddonate in their place,” said Edmonson.

The next scheduled blood drive in southwest Mississippi is notuntil Jan. 6, at KDMC, but churches, civic organizations and othercaring individuals may set up a drive in the area by calling MBS at1-800-817-7449.

Earlier this week, a Christmas blood drive was held at KDMC,bringing in 20 donations from area residents.

“Because there was an added push in the area, we were able todouble our collections,” said Edmonson, explaining that thebi-weekly drive usually nets around 10 pints of blood.

The blood drive was successful because of the efforts of BillBoerner and his brother, Bruce. They urged people to get out anddonate blood after seeing the positive affects of blood drives twoyears ago when Bruce Boerner was diagnosed with mantle celllymphoma.

The Brookhaven resident is in remission now, and hopes to helpsave the lives of others by pushing the Christmas blood drive everyyear.

MBS officials noted that their efforts made a difference.Edmonson commented on the continuous generosity of residents in theBrookhaven area.

“We’d like to be in Brookhaven every week. That community is sogiving. They really come together,” she said.