Blood Shortage Becomes Crucial As War Looms

For Stewart Blood Center, right now their situation is critical.

"We are naturally low in everything right now," Donor Consultant Barbara Tice admits. "We are trying to step up our drives."

In the days following September 11, 2001, the blood centers were overcrowded, taking in over 2100 units of blood in a week. Now, less than 160 units are on the shelves. That's a critical condition, especially when you consider the local hospitals use about 200 units every day.

"If there's an emergency the donors come out," Patricia explains. "But what they don't understand is there is an emergency in someone's life every day. We have a child in the East Texas area that uses three-quarters of a gallon's worth of blood products every two weeks. It takes nine thousand people to donate for that one child."

With war a strong possibility soon, the center is readying for another push as people may again see donating as an American duty.

"We would extend the hours at the blood center," Patricia says. "We'd just try and bring as many staff as we can accommodate all the people that come in."

"We hope that there's a spike, because we definitely need it."

For donors on Sunday, they realize their gift isn't just necessary in times of catastrophe.

"People think just because of September 11, there was a huge crisis there," donor Erik Tijerina says. "They don't realize exactly how much everybody does need blood. We're in shortages all the time."

If the country does go to war, they hope people remember.

"We hope that people will come out," Patricia says. "We hope we will have our hands full."

Until then, every unit they collect is just a drop in an awfully deep bucket.

Reid Kerr ( reporting.