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    Have you ever wondered what happens when blood donor centers and hospitals don’t have blood to give to trauma victims in emergency situations? Probably not. The truth is, most people don’t think about what would happen in those types of situations because the outcome is, for many, too unimaginable. But when hospitals don’t have an adequate supply of blood, people die. {mosimage}
    Recently, the Cape Fear Valley Blood Donor Center was forced to send out a mass appeal to local businesses and donors in the community for Type O Negative blood donations because the center’s current stock has reached critically low levels. While the center normally has a three-to four-day supply in reserve, the current supply has fallen below a single day’s worth of O negative blood on hand.
    “Right now we’re really short on all blood types,” said Mary Fisher, a representative of the Blood Donor Center. “However, the need for O Negative is critical.” She explained that, just for the patients in the areas served by Cape fear Valley and Highsmith-Rainey hospitals, the center needs to bring in at least 1,300 donors a month — from all blood types, but very specifically O negative. O negative can be used for trauma victims when there is no time to type the victim’s blood.
    Fisher suggests there may be a number of reasons that blood levels have gotten so low — including ineligibility of donors. Several factors make a person ineligible to donate bloods, such as: anyone who has traveled or lived in Europe for more than three months between 1980 and 1996 is permanently ineligible, and anyone who has recently had a body piercing or tattoo outside of North Carolina in the past year is also disqualified from donating for one year.
    She said, “Some people think everybody else is doing it, so they don’t really need to. And they’re not.” But added, “We’re just fortunate that every time we go into this critical situation, that there isn’t an accident or trauma that comes in that we don’t have blood.”
    “The same donors always pull through for the center,” Fisher reported, “but we need new people to come in, especially the type O’s to start supporting.” As much as the Blood Donor Center loves and appreciates their regulars, Fisher looks forward to the day when “…we don’t have to keep calling the same donors all the time or making them feel guilty when they can’t come.
    At Womack Army Medical Center, the outlook isn’t much better. “Levels at Womack are not quite as critical as the Cape Fear Valley’s Blood Donor Center, but we still need donations,” said Shannon Lynch, of the Womack Public Affairs Office. “We are constantly trying to find ways to keep our blood donations up.”
She explained that the hospital maintains a “wartime contingency of blood products,” which are either used to supply the need at Fort Bragg or sent to support Army initiatives abroad.
    Womack does a number of blood drives on post, to which anyone can donate. “If you can get on post, you can donate,” Lynch added.
    One area of confusion, however, is that “People think that if they donate at Cape Fear, that soldiers benefit and that’s not the case,” she clarified. “If a person wanted to donate blood and make sure that a soldier or their family benefited from donating the blood, they should donate at the Fort Bragg Blood Donor Center.” She said that the blood collected at the Fort Bragg Donor Center and the Cape Fear Valley center are really only shared in the event that one purchases blood supply from the other.
    To donate blood at the Cape Fear Valley Blood Donor Center, stop by 3357 Village Drive, Suite 150, in the Bordeaux Shopping Center between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. For questions, or to make an appointment to donate, call 609-6300. All blood donated to the Blood Donor Center remains in the community to serve the needs of patients of Cape Fear Valley Health System.
    The Fort Bragg Blood Donor Center can be reached by calling 907-WAMC. (907-9262.)

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