Patients never take a holiday … hospitals never close'

By Staff
EDITORIAL BOARD Bill Herring shared his concerns in comments to The Meridian Star's Editorial Board. He fears lives may be lost because of a blood shortage in the Meridian area. Photo by Penny Randall/The Meridian Star
By Sharon White/The Meridian Star
Dec. 18, 2000
Officials with United Blood Services said they are braced for one of the worst possible times for a blood shortage.
Herring shared his concerns in comments to The Meridian Star's Editorial Board. He fears lives may be lost because of a blood shortage in the Meridian area.
could send us into a crisis without much warning."
In addition, Herring said the extended holiday means school is out and a good source for donors is gone.
Students take the lessons home and try to convince their parents to donate blood. "We get a lot of response from this because parents don't want to disappoint their children."
Historically, Meridian's donor-base consists of 20,000 people, representing about 5 percent of the population. Herring said the number of givers decreases during the holidays.
United Blood Services of Meridian supplies blood to not only three major hospitals in Meridian, but also 19 other hospitals outside the area. Between Meridian and its two sister offices, blood is supplied to patients in 46 hospitals in Mississippi.
In recent weeks, UBS has had to pay freight and blood costs on O negative shipments on two occasions.
Because the shelf life for blood is 42 days, and a person may donate blood only once every 56 days, UBS needs a steady supply of donors every day.
Although the actual procedure of donating takes only about 40 minutes, testing required by the federal Food and Drug Administration takes up to four days.
Since the spring, Herring said the Meridian office has had "extreme problems" with getting blood drives scheduled. As a result, on several occasions, elective surgeries at local hospitals have been postponed.
He said the crunch has been particularly hard where O negative and O positive blood is concerned.
Because of the prolonged shortage, and the potential upcoming crisis, UBS is staying open later today and Tuesday. The center, located at 1115 25th Ave., will be conducting an in-service promotion from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. both days. Santa is expected to lend an arm today from 2 p.m.-6 p.m.
Refreshments will be served throughout the office drive.
Plans are also in the making for the second annual WTOK-TV Mash Bash at the Temple Theater. The drive is set for Dec. 28, and is open to the public. Staff of the local television station will be dressed in attire similar to that worn by characters portrayed in the popular television series.
For more information about upcoming drives or how to schedule a drive or make a personal donation, contact UBS at 482-2482.
Sharon White is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at swhite@themeridianstar.com.

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