Victims of blast need blood

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The response of blood donors to burn victims of last week's Savannah industrial explosion is the Augusta area's largest since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, officials said Monday.

Billie Drake watches television as she donates blood platelets at Shepeard Community Blood Center in Augusta. Mrs. Drake said she wanted to help the victims of the Savannah sugar refinery blast, many of whom are being treated at the center.  Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Billie Drake watches television as she donates blood platelets at Shepeard Community Blood Center in Augusta. Mrs. Drake said she wanted to help the victims of the Savannah sugar refinery blast, many of whom are being treated at the center.

Hundreds have visited Shepeard Community Blood Center locations since Friday, donating more than 500 units, said Pamela Rascon, the director of community resources.

More than 700 units were collected in the three days after the New York terrorist attacks, she said, but "we haven't seen donations like this since then."

Officials are also reminding the public that the needs will increase as burn patients undergo surgeries in the coming weeks.

Beth Frits, a spokeswoman for the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital, said the demand for blood is going to be continuous, with more than 71 people being treated in the center.

"It's not just the people we're treating from Savannah," Ms. Frits said. "We have a full house of burn patients that are going to need blood."

During the weekend, Savannah patients at the burn center used about 200 units of blood and more than 600 units of blood products, which includes plasma, said John Doriot, the director of diagnostic services at the hospital.

Shepeard's Ms. Rascon asked that anyone wishing to donate blood call to make an appointment. The nurses will also be able to answer any questions donors might have about eligibility to donate, she said.

Centers are often filled with donors in the days after a disaster, only to have the supply drop off when blood is still needed.

On Monday one of the patients burned in the fire at a Savannah sugar refinery improved from critical to serious condition, Ms. Frits said. Sixteen patients remained in critical condition at the burn center, and three patients were discharged Sunday.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or

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WhiskyDick 02/12/08 - 05:56 am
The Red Cross itself is

The Red Cross itself is largely to blame for the blood shortage as it will no longer accept donations from people who lived in Europe in the 1980s and 1990s. I donated a couple of gallons of blood until 2003 when they decided I was a risk because I was stationed in Germany 1987-1990. Thirteen years they took my blood, now they won't due to the "threat" of BSE (Mad Cow Disease). According to the CDC, three people have died in the US from BSE since the disease was identified 18 years ago. I've been banned because I ate bratwurst. But if I lived in the US and had sex with a hepatitus carrier (a blood-borne disease like HIV), I'd only be disqualified from donating for a year.

MS_ALEXIS 02/12/08 - 11:01 am
i bet if they started paying

i bet if they started paying they would get more than enough donors. i donate now and i have been since my son died in 2005 but if they started offering things they would get donors. sometimes you ahve to give to get. i would just do it for free because i know i'm helping save a life.

Augusta resident
Augusta resident 02/12/08 - 02:53 pm
They keep adding questions to

They keep adding questions to the screening process which have eliminated alot of people. They don't like turning people around. They know this is an Army town but won't let some people give because they lived in Europe. It is even questionable even if you just visited there. I give, but my blood is reserved for babies. I havn't been real sick since I started giving a few years ago and I never get a flu shot. Giving blood is suppose to reduce the risk of heart disease by 40%, that's what got me started on it.

wbbh 02/14/08 - 06:35 pm
Higher donor standards

Higher donor standards protect blood recipients from getting a disease. Europe has a problem with mad cow disease in their meat supply and there is no way to screen for it yet. As soon as there is a screen test for that disease, those donors will be welcomed back.

If you can’t donate encourage others to do so. Local or national is not important. The people that need those blood donations are important.

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