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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, October 31, 2001

Blood donors back out of promises Blood donors back out of promises (October 31, 2001)

In aftermath of disaster, many appointments canceled

by Candice Shih

When potential blood donors lined up outside the door of the Stanford Blood Center in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, many were told to make an appointment and come back later.

Some did, but a relatively high percentage did not.

According to Appointments Supervisor Michael Sage, 1 in 4 recent appointments resulted in no-shows. The typical rate for appointments that are not honored is 1 in 10.

In the week of the terrorist attack, the blood center witnessed such a massive response from the local community that workers instructed potential blood donors to make an appointment. In fact, the appointments phone line received more than 30 times its regular intake of calls on Sept.11 alone.

Despite making appointments, some potential donors have not come back. Sage credits the trend to people "getting caught in the moment" and later deciding they are too busy to donate blood.

Although many have not returned to honor their appointments, the Blood Center is well stocked according to Michele Gassaway, community and media relations coordinator.

"The inventory looks great. We want to keep it that way," she said.

In order for the inventory at the blood center -- which serves local hospitals and is part of a nationwide network that helped supply hospitals in New York City -- to stay at peak levels, people need to keep donating blood.

Because blood has a shelf life of 35 to 42 days, donations from the week of Sept. 11 are already becoming outdated and must be discarded if not used. In addition, community members who donated during that time cannot donate again until eight weeks later.

Therefore, Gassaway said, there is still a need to donate despite the healthy state of the blood center's inventory.

"The child with childhood leukemia or the grandfather who needs a heart transplant is just as important (as someone suffering in N.Y.)," she said.

Gassaway admitted the recent increase in no-shows has been "disappointing," but is nonetheless grateful that blood donation has come to the forefront of the public consciousness.

The blood center is hoping to carry this momentum into the coming months since the holidays are typically a time when people make themselves less available for donations.

People interested in donating blood are advised to call ahead of time to make an appointment. Those with a blood type that is currently fully stocked should consider donating at a later date.

Appointments can be made at the Stanford Medical School Blood Center by calling (650) 723-7831.

Candice Shih writes for the Voice, the Weekly's sister publication in Mountain View.


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