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CNN BREAKING NEWS

American Red Cross Issues Statement Addressing Blood Supply Concerns

Aired January 31, 2003 - 14:49   ET

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

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: While we've been focusing on that hostage situation unfolding in the northern fringes of Dade County, Florida, which of course, we should tell you we're tracking very closely and we'll bring you the latest as soon as anything happens there, while we were watching that ever so closely the American Red Cross here in Atlanta, Georgia, issued a statement about problems and some concerns with the blood supply, not just here in Atlanta, but perhaps all throughout the southeast.
Apparently, it has been contaminated with some sort of white particulates. We're trying to assess the seriousness of this, but the word has come out from the American Red Cross not to use this blood unless it is an absolute life and death situation. Let's listen to the American Red Cross spokesman, Chris Hrouda.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS HROUDA, AMERICAN RED CROSS: On Thursday, January 30th, the American Red Cross Blood Services Southern Region asked its hospitals to voluntarily suspend use of certain blood units collected recently in Georgia and North Florida. This action is not a recall, but a precautionary measure taken in the best interest of patient safety after some blood collected was found to have white particulate matter in it. The American Red Cross is actively investigating this issue and has gained control of all potentially affected blood units in this region's inventory.

We also have instructed the hospitals that we service to suspend use of some locally collected blood except in cases of emergency. Microscopic examination of the white particles indicates that they do not appear to be infectious agents. To date the American Red Cross has received no reports of adverse patient reactions that can be tied to this issue. Preliminary tests indicate that the problem was likely associated with blood collection bags and not the blood itself.

The Red Cross has been in dialogue with Blood Bag Manufacturer (ph) and the Food and Drug Administration and is actively working to further address this issue. The top priority of the American Red Cross is always the safety and availability of the blood supply and the patients who rely on us to provide life-saving blood. Through our national blood system we have already imported hundreds of units to meet local blood needs and anticipate bringing in roughly 2,000 units of blood over the course of the weekend.

(END VIDEO CLIP) O'BRIEN: Chris Hrouda with the American Red Cross here in Atlanta speaking just moments ago, trying to give us some sense of what's going on with the blood supply. We're watching that very closely. Still unclear and probably unclear to the American Red Cross at this point what caused that contamination, but the fact is that the warning is out there not to use this potentially contaminated blood because there's some white particulate matter, which has gotten into it. Of course, in life and death situations there might be some real- time calls to the contrary on that.

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