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EMS director: San Antonio blood supply is less than 1 day
(6-19-02)

The San Antonio-area blood supply continues to be alarmingly low — even after calls for help in the media, said Donald J. Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., director of San Antonio's Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and professor and chairman of emergency medical technology at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSC).

"The Health Science Center wants to help the community by emphasizing the need to bring the blood supply to what is considered a safe level — a three-day supply," Dr. Gordon said. "We have less than a one-day supply, and all types and classes of blood are low. Any major cases of trauma have the potential to make blood not available for elective surgeries. Transplants and other things could be affected."

He said San Antonio's EMS and other area departments handle more than a dozen Code 3 traumas a day on average. Code 3 traumas are in patients who have a high probability of going to the operating room and requiring units of blood.

The UTHSC department of emergency medical technology will hold a trauma response demonstration at 10:30 a.m. Thursday (June 20) at the Health Science Center, 7703 Floyd Curl Drive. The annual demo is an educational program for UTHSC medical students. "This year it is also something to show the public why we need blood," Dr. Gordon said.

Some members of the U.S. military are not eligible to donate after new U.S. precautions against mad cow disease took effect May 1. The regulations prohibit blood donation by anyone who has spent six months of time, cumulatively, in Europe since 1980. "This rules out some of those in the service and we think this is one factor in the current shortage," Dr. Gordon said.

Dr. Gordon is chair of the medical advisory committee for the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center. He said the center collects 120,000 to 140,000 units of blood annually.

Contact: Will Sansom or Aileen Salinas