January 11, 2008

VUMC answers Red Cross’ urgent call for blood donors

Featured Image

A critical shortage prompted a special blood drive at VUMC this week. (iStockphoto)

VUMC answers Red Cross’ urgent call for blood donors

With a “critical need for blood” alert from the American Red Cross causing surgeries to be postponed at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, faculty and staff came together Monday in overwhelming numbers for a special blood drive that produced 58 units.

It was the first “special” blood drive in the Medical Center's history and produced 116 percent of the 50-unit goal set by the American Red Cross.

VUMC Director of Client and Community Relations Bill Rochford said 58 donors represented the maximum that could be managed by the limited Red Cross staff at this drive; Blood Drive Coordinator Aileen Tackett reported an additional 40 persons pre-registered for the Jan. 16 blood drive at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt.

“Our community blood supply was at a critical level,” Rochford said. “We'd had to postpone some surgical procedures. We had a wonderful response from the faculty and staff on Monday.”

The special blood drive was announced with a Medical Center e-mail from Chief Medical Officer C. Wright Pinson, M.D., sent at the end of the day on Friday to alert faculty and staff that the critical shortage was “affecting patient care.”

At Vanderbilt, two liver transplants, one kidney transplant and two cardiac surgeries were rescheduled due to a lack of blood and blood products.

“We had 20 first-time donors show up out of our staff and that is significant,” Rochford said.

“What that tells me is our faculty and staff responded to the message from Dr. Pinson, saying, ‘we don't want to have these surgeries postponed for a lack of blood.’”

The Red Cross estimates that every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood but only 5 percent of the eligible population donates blood in any year. Healthy donors are the only source of blood and currently there is no substitute.

The Jan. 16 monthly blood drive is from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Children's Theater on the second floor of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt.

For more information or to enroll go to www.givelife.org and use Vandy19 as the password.