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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Red Cross Tells Georgia Hospitals to Hold Blood Units

Aired January 31, 2003 - 12:53   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 also following here in Georgia another developing story. This is a situation that has gotten a number of health officials concerned. There is some concern about contamination in the state blood supply coming from the Red Cross. Word this morning that perhaps some of the bags used by the Red Cross may have been tainted with some kind of contaminant that may have ruined the blood supply, and as a result, hospitals are being told to not use the blood.
Let's check in with our Charles Molineaux who is standing by at the Atlanta Red Cross headquarters.

And, Charles, what have you learned there.

CHARLES MOLINEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right now, Leon, we're looking at what could be a real scary story, obviously, a case of possible contamination, but the Red Cross is trying to determine if there really is anything at all to worry about.

What we're hearing is some sort of strange white particles have been showing up in some samples of blood, so to be on the safe side, the Red Cross is asking hospitals throughout its southern blood service region not to use certain blood products.

Now this region applies to the entire state of Georgia, as well as some counties in South Carolina, as well as some counties in Florida.

What is going on now is what is called a quality assurance inquiry, or investigation, a process the Red Cross is going through to figure out if there is any contamination to be concerned about.

Apparently, the Red Cross says, they say there is not an emergency situation, and if there are any emergency needs for blood, trauma situations perhaps, there will be blood available, but they're asking the hospitals perhaps to put off any elective surgery.

We've been talking to several hospitals throughout the area, who say they are planning this likely a situation to last a period of hours, not a protracted crisis of any kind. But apparently some operations are being rescheduled. Operations that perhaps might not have required blood are being scheduled earlier, while those that might require some are being scheduled later.

So the current planning seems to be along the lines of this being a short duration situation, while they go through the quality assurance evaluation process. We are expected to hear from the Red Cross at 2:30 Eastern Time with more elaboration on what the situation is, whether we have a contamination situation. Right now, the Red Cross says it is trying to be safe, but for the moment, asking the hospitals to refrain from using certain blood products throughout the southern blood services region, again, Georgia, parts of South Carolina and north Florida -- Leon.

HARRIS: All right, good deal. Thank you, Charles. We'll let you go and continue to track down that story.

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