Although the faceless sniper has drawn blood from the Washington suburbs to the Richmond suburbs, the shooting spree has left those that draw blood for life-saving, not life-taking, with a severe shortage.
The events of the past three weeks have made it even more difficult for blood donor centers to ensure that there is an adequate supply of blood to fill hospital orders, according to Kathleen Thomas, media relations manager for Inova Alexandria Hospital. "It takes approximately 72 hours to test blood before it can be shipped to a hospital for patient use," she explained.
Some school blood drives have been canceled because of safety concerns. Everyday trauma patients, cancer patients, newborns, accident victims and others need blood transfusions. Inova Blood Donor Services is part of Inova Health System, and it is pleading for donors.
"If you would like to donate blood or host a blood drive, contact Inova Blood Donor Services by calling 1-866-BLOODSAVES (1-866-256-6372), or visit www.inova.org/donateblood," Thomas, pleaded.
"It's a struggle to collect the 200 units we need on a daily basis to ensure a safe and adequate supply," Thomas added. Inova Blood Donor Services is the primary supplier to 11 hospitals in the Washington metropolitan area.
RECENT DONOR travel restrictions imposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has had a negative affect on blood donations. This has now been exacerbated by the sniper shootings. Trauma patients, such as victims of the sniper, can require exceptionally high blood transfusions during surgery.
"We have four donor centers in Northern Virginia and have the ability to hold blood drives in all three jurisdictions. Just one pint of blood can help save the lives of several people. Please donate today," Thomas urged.
Potential donors can make appointments by contacting the following centers:
. Inova Alexandria Hospital, 4320 Seminary Road, 703- 504-3500. Donation times are Monday and Wednesday, noon-8 p.m.; and Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
. Inova Mount Vernon Hospital, 2501 Parkers Lane, 703- 664-7229. Donation times are Monday through Thursday, 4-7 p.m.