|Donors Wait Hours to Give
Blood, But Officials Worry About Waning Interest|
By Robyn Lamb and Jennifer Dorroh
Capital News Service
Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2001
WASHINGTON - Steve Weiner, 17, had
never donated blood before. But the devastation of a terrorist attack had
never hit so close to home before.
The father of one of Weiner's Quince
Orchard High School classmates is missing and presumed dead in Tuesday's
attack on the Pentagon. So on Wednesday, Weiner and seven of his friends
went to the Gaithersburg Red Cross Donor Center to give blood.
were just sick of watching TV and not being able to do anything,"
Donor centers around Maryland were flooded Wednesday
with people like Weiner, who were anxious to do their part for the victims
of Tuesday's terrorist attacks against the Pentagon and the World Trade
Center in New York.
Although centers could not say Wednesday how many
people had given blood, many reported lines of more than 50 donors and
waits of five hours or more throughout the day. The turnout was so heavy
that officials were asking people to delay donations, so that there are
still donors in the near future.
To accommodate the large number
of donors who have turned out, the Red Cross has expanded its hours at
centers around Maryland. "We have been swamped," said Michael
Thompson, a volunteer at the Towson donor center of the Red Cross.
complaining, because it is for a good cause," said Sayeeda Samia,
another volunteer at the center.
Janet Mandel dropped her two
children at Lake Forest Mall before joining the line of 50 hopeful donors
at the Gaithersburg center. She rested in a folding chair and sipped water
from a thermos she brought from her home in Bethesda.
called the Red Cross they told me there would be a three-hour wait and I
should bring water," she said. By the time she arrived, the estimated
waiting time was five hours, but Mandel was undeterred. "I wanted to
give today. We may be covered for now, but if we go to war or other things
happen, we'll need more supplies," she said.
Madhu Ghosh and
Nicole Rouse, biochemists, took time off work at a Rockville biotechnology
firm to donate blood. "We told them (at work) we'll be back when we
get back," Ghosh said. It was important to donate today, she said,
because it is not clear how much blood will be needed by victims in the
next few days.
While blood bank officials say the turnout in
Maryland has been overwhelming, they are concerned that such an immediate
explosion of donations will fizzle, resulting in blood supply shortages
down the line.
"If interest wanes, we'll find ourselves with
a shortage," said Joy Jenson, of the Greater Chesapeake and Potomac
chapter of the Red Cross. The other problem, she said, is that people who
donate today must wait a minimum of 56 days before they are eligible to
give blood again. So blood banks are asking that people spread their
donations throughout the upcoming weeks to ensure a continuous supply of
"We're asking that the public stay with us over the
next few days, into the next few weeks," said Jenson. The Red Cross
is asking people to call 1-800-GIVE LIFE to schedule a donation
CNS reporter Nora Achrati contributed to this
report from Annapolis.
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