Red Cross Blood Bank overloaded with eager donors

Hank Sims Daily Planet staff
Wednesday September 12, 2001

OAKLAND – The American Red Cross Blood Bank on Claremont Avenue was mobbed Tuesday afternoon, as concerned and grief-stricken East Bay residents showed up to offer their help in the only way they knew how. 

At 2 p.m., around 250 people were waiting their turn for an appointment with one of the 12 Red Cross workers on hand to take blood donations. Some stood in a line that ran out the door and around the corner onto College Avenue, while others sat in the lobby watching the news.  

Michelle Joyce, a Berkeley social worker, waited in the donors’ line for over two hours before dashing across the street for a moment to pick up a newspaper.  

“I saw on the TV that there was a blood shortage, so I thought I’d come down,” said Joyce. “It seemed more useful than sitting at home.” 

Cynthia Carlson, the Claremont office’s supervisor of donor recruitment, welcomed the attention that the crisis brought to blood donation, but doubted that her office would be able to process everyone who came Tuesday. 

“Lots of people came in today, but we need people all the time,” she said. “We’d like people to hold off and come in a week or so from now.”  

Carlson said that it is usually difficult to arrange blood drives at places of business, but that a number of companies have faxed and e-mailed her today offering to host a mobile Red Cross unit.  

“Unfortunately, it takes a crisis like this for the message to hit home with people,” she said. 

The Red Cross will hold blood drives at various locations on the UC Berkeley campus next week. People who can donate are urged to register for an appointment on the Red Cross’ Web site, www.beadonor.com.  

Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean said Tuesday that she is trying to organize a drive at Alta Bates Hospital next week. A scheduled drive will be held at Berkeley Firehouse No. 2, 2029 Berkeley Way, Sept. 28.