Red Cross warns of low blood reserves


The American Red Cross has announced that its blood reserves are dangerously low in Maryland, causing concern that the supply may not be enough to meet hospital needs during the July 4 weekend.

"With less than a day's supply on our shelves, the community needs to know that unless supplies are replenished, a major accident could force hospitals to delay or cancel procedures," said Dr. Paul Ness, director of blood services for the Greater Chesapeake and Potomac Region.

As a result, the Red Cross has put out a call for donations of all blood types -- particularly types O and B, which are expected to be in greatest demand during the holiday weekend.

Red Cross officials blamed the shortage on the cancellation of several high school blood drives in May because of the heat wave and outbreaks of measles and mumps.

While it hasn't been proved that the illnesses are spread through blood transfusions, a spokeswoman said, the Red Cross wanted to be on the safe side and avoid high schools where outbreaks occurred.

Blood supplies are typically low in the summer, but the current shortage occurred early, said Red Cross spokeswoman Linda Klein. Donors may call (800) 272-0024 for the most convenient location.

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