Utah blood supply catching up with demand

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    By STEPHAN OGILVIE

    Utah blood donations are finally meeting Utah’s demand, though FDA requirements make it difficult for hospitals and other health organizations to do blood drives.

    Other states have had to supply Utah with blood since May 1997 in order to compensate for the deficit.

    Constant regional blood drives and two Red Cross bloodmobiles cover all of Utah as well as parts of Wyoming and Utah said Jennifer Loris, a donor service specialist for the American Red Cross.

    Intermountain Health Care was the other large provider of blood in Utah.

    Loris said IHC was having troubles with the Food and Drug Administration and decided to drop blood drives. This made the Red Cross the primary blood supplier in Utah.

    “Ever since May of last year when the Red Cross became the primary supplier of blood,” Loris said, “Utah has been behind.”

    Most Utah hospitals and health organizations no longer do blood drives because of the burden of compliance with FDA standards, Loris said. Only Columbia Hospitals and the University of Utah continue to provide their own blood.

    The Utah Valley Regional Medical Center works in conjunction with IHC. It no longer has independent blood drives. John Linebaugh, administrative director of laboratories at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, said they enjoyed having their own blood drives.

    Linebaugh said he is pleased with the arrangement with the Red Cross. “We’re the customer,” he said, “we recieve 100 percent of our blood from the Red Cross.” Linebaugh said, “The only way for us to get blood is through the Red Cross.”

    Though the blood is donated by Utah citizens, the hospitals still pay the Red Cross for it. Loris said the fees cover the costs of testing and processing. FDA regulations require rigorous testing for blood carried diseases such as HIV, hepatitis and syphilis.

    The Red Cross may charge hospitals for the blood, but they are a non-profit organization. “We are actually in the red,” Loris said.

    300 units of blood are required daily in Utah said Loris. One unit is equivalent to the amount of blood each person donates.

    Travelling bloodmobiles are key to Utah’s success in gathering blood said Loris. The two refrigerated busses are constantly moving throughout Utah.

    Amy Bird, a blood donator, said, “It’s a great idea because I don’t always have time.” She said she saw the bloodmobile in the supermarket parking lot and stopped.

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