The supply of certain types of blood at Carroll County General Hospital has dropped to dangerously low levels in the past several weeks because of a regionwide decline in donors, said the hospital's blood bank supervisor.

The hospital normally receives blood deliveries from the Central Maryland chapter of the American Red Cross on Tuesdaysand Fridays, said Gertrude Redding.

But for the past two weeks, CCGH has received partial orders or no deliveries, she said.

The shortage creates a risk for emergency patients who have lost blood in accidents and others who need transfusions, said Redding, who characterized the problem as "serious."

CCGH has been especially short of O-negative and B-positive, relatively uncommon blood types, said Redding. The O-negative type can be usedfor any patient in an emergency if a match can't be found and "can be used up quick," said Redding.

Last week, the hospital had only two units of O-negative in stock, both of which were needed for an emergency, leaving nothing for routine transfusions or surgeries, said Redding. CCGH prefers to stock about 10 units.

Meanwhile, another patient needed an emergency transfusion of three units. Hospital officials contacted the Red Cross distribution office, which provided the blood, she said.

Because of the low blood supply, a doctor decidedin another case to delay a blood transfusion for an anemic patient with mild symptoms, she said.

The hospital does not have the staff or the facilities to conduct its own blood drive, Redding said.

Itrelies on the Red Cross for about 90 percent of its blood supply.

A Red Cross staff specialist in Westminster speculated that blood donations have declined partly because many donors gave during the Persian Gulf war and have not returned since.

Employee layoffs have also hurt blood drives at businesses, said Amy Gaver. Summer is typically a slow time for donations.

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