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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Georgia Hospitals Told To Hold Back Blood Supply

Aired January 31, 2003 - 12:15   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We're getting more and more information in here at the CNN Center here in Atlanta on this situation in Georgia. Hospitals now being told to hold back their blood supply because of concerns about the blood being tainted by blood bags used by the Red Cross.
Elizabeth Cohen, our medical news correspondent, is here now with the latest on that.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Very interesting story. I haven't heard of anything quite like this, Leon. What's happened is that the Georgia Hospital Association is telling hospitals in Georgia, do not do surgeries that will require a lot of blood, because there may be a problem with the blood supply.

They wouldn't -- what they told us the reason was -- quote -- "there is an issue with the bags," meaning the bags that hold the blood. Again, -- quote -- "there is an issue with the bags." We don't know exactly what that means. Those are the only details that they'll give us. The Red Cross says they are erring on the side of the safety, and the public should not be alarmed.

HARRIS: What kind of contaminant could there possibly be -- has there been a case like this, where it's happened before, where the bags have been the source of contamination?

COHEN: I have not heard of one. Anything is possible. I mean, maybe there was a problem manufacturing the bags, and somehow the blood might have gotten tainted, but they are, indeed, extremely cautious, as they should be, with the blood supply. What might have happened here is that they might have found that there could be a problem, and so they've put this hold on the blood that is in the state of Georgia, but again, surgeries that could require a lot of blood, they say hold off, don't do them right now.

HARRIS: Obvious question is, how did they find out? Was it because of some surgeries that were performed, and bad blood was actually used in a surgery, and -- resulted with a more -- like severe illness or something, or perhaps even worse than that?

COHEN: I wish I knew the answer to that. The Red Cross is saying precious little at this time. All they're saying is, Don't worry.

HARRIS: OK. At this point, there's not much more we can do about that.

COHEN: No.

HARRIS: OK. Well, that is the latest on that situation. Thank you.

COHEN: Thanks.

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