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The Daily Tar Heel

Red Cross Blood Drives Secure Area Reserves

Local blood collections have provided 1,000 units to aid terrorist attack victims and stock regional hospitals.

The only blood collected locally that directly benefited attack victims was 1,000 units sent to Baltimore on Sept. 11 to help victims of the Pentagon attack.

After the shipment was sent, officials determined there was not enough blood left over to meet the needs of area hospitals. Blood drives in the area since Sept. 11 have worked to replenish reserves so regional hospitals secure the blood needed to treat patients.

Local Red Cross officials say several blood drives held on campus in recent weeks have surpassed their expectations.

"We were able to quickly replenish the supply," said Lisa Whitaker, donor recruitment manager at the Orange County Red Cross. "Over the past two weeks, we have collected twice as much as needed."

During Monday's blood drive at the School for Public Health, the goal was to collect 50 blood units, said Casey Copp, director of blood services at the Orange County Red Cross. She said 70 people showed up to donate, and 61 productive units of blood were collected.

"We depend heavily on the campus throughout the year," Copp said.

Since the attacks, campus blood drives have averaged a turnout of 40 to 45 people, while in the past turnout would be no more than about 30. The main issue now, Copp said, is ensuring that blood donations do not decline.

"We're getting a better response now and want to maintain that," she said. Whitaker said 1,500 units of blood must be collected daily to serve regional needs.

Blood is good for 42 days after collection, but donors may only donate blood every 56 days, which creates the possibility of a shortage for about two weeks because so many people gave blood immediately after the attacks.

Currently, there is no shortage of any blood type, and the Red Cross is trying to slow collections and bring them to average amounts, Whitaker said. She said it is trying to slow donations because the Red Cross is not equipped to handle all the donors coming in and because the blood might go bad before it can be used.

Though Whitaker said the Red Cross doesn't have adequate resources to handle the number of people wanting to donate, she said it's good to have a steady amount of collections on hand.

"We never know if there will be another attack," Whitaker said. "But if there is one, we need to have resources available."

Freshman Carey Fetting-Smith said she plans to give blood in the coming weeks and that she would like to see her donation help the attack victims. But she said she would be satisfied just to see her blood go to a good cause.

"I think the blood goes to hospitals around here, but I'd hope it was going to victims of Tuesday's tragedy," she said.

While Red Cross officials expressed appreciation for those students who are still donating blood, Whitaker said they are especially grateful to those who took the initiative to donate before the tragedy.

She said, "The heroes on campus are those that donated during the drives at the end of August and during the first week of September."

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