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Posted: Feb. 26, 2002

Addenda: Feb. 27, 2002

Link Updates: Jan. 6, 2003 & Jan. 2, 2011


Blood and Disaster - Supply and Demand

A very interesting article has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled 'BLOOD AND DISASTER - SUPPLY AND DEMAND' authored by Dr. Paul Schmidt [N Engl J Med, Vol. 346, No. 8 · February 21, 2002] Access is limited to subscribers to the paper version of the journal, with exceptions, as described below.

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ADDENDA Feb. 27, 2002

Dr. Paul Schmidt offerred further comments on this important issue.

  1. "If you have an unexpected need for large amounts of blood immediately, you already have on the shelf the blood that you will not be able to use tomorrow when the hospital staff will be resting up from today. Plan to get more from a neighbor. Do not improvise on blood collections. (Try a state or regional drill and get an idea of how many group O units could be delivered to you in three hours. That will assure all involved that they can release their stocks.) Know where the blood goes and do follow-up on any recipients who survive.
  2. If the number of victims of a disaster who need blood is "overwhelming", you will be overwhelmed. Transfusing the injured will not be a first priority, triage will. If there are simultaneous or further terrorist attacks tomorrow in other communities, collecting blood today is not going to alleviate those problems.
  3. If there is active or incipient competition among hospitals or blood suppliers in a city or region, it will get worse during a disaster. In your "blood community" create a single "voice" NOW and get it recognized and working with the local emergency preparedness authorities as the one voice for everybody's disaster blood supply and demand. Give it a regular workout drill but be prepared to improvise. Make sure that your neighbors and the media know what blood voice to listen to in a disaster.
  4. Recognize the donors who gave blood regularly before the disaster and supplied the blood that saved the lives. The human interest stories should emphasize the medical value to the disaster blood recipients more than the emotional value to the disaster blood donors."

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