disaster and the blood supply


If the disasters of September 11th, 2001 have no other good outcome, I hope 
that they stimulate some effective discussion about our nation's donor blood 

I was a community blood bank medical director 25 years ago. When I left, 
there were a lot of nationwide problems in blood supply that were not being 
effectively addressed, most notably the chronic shortage of group O blood. 25 
years later, I have seen little progess in solving these problems.

These problems are unique to the United States; Europe has more donors than 
it needs. Instead of recruiting donors, we have let our donor base wither 
away, from advancing age and increased prescribed deferrals, lately for mad 
cow disease.

The people volunteering to give blood today are to be commended, of course, 
but their sudden appearance swamps community blood centers. Where were these 
donors last week? last month? last year? Where will they be a month from now?

We have a great opportunity here to educate the public about the importance 
of regular blood donation, and how our nation's blood supply system works. 
Please: let's not let this awful opportunity go by.

Bob Richmond
Samurai Pathologist
(medical director, Red Cross Blood Program, Baltimore MD, 1973-76)
Knoxville TN

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