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Middle Tennessee Red Cross Quarantines Blood Supply

Feb 3, 2003 | AP

The Red Cross in Middle Tennessee has quarantined 70 percent of its blood supply for testing of an unknown contaminant, agency officials said Sunday night.

The quarantine has left the region dangerously low on red blood cells and plasma, they said.

The Tennessee Valley region of the Red Cross examined its blood after reports from the Southern Region, based in Atlanta, of white particles found in donated blood.

The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were testing the particles, which were not considered dangerous or infectious.

Some Southern hospitals canceled surgeries, and the Red Cross shipped blood from other regions to increase the supply.

Blood in bags manufactured by Baxter International Inc. had been found to be contaminated. A spokeswoman for Baxter said the particles were not related to the manufacturing of the bags. Baxter's test results could be ready Monday.

The Tennessee Valley Blood Services Region serves 84 counties in Tennessee and counties in southern Illinois, southwest Kentucky and two counties in eastern Missouri.

The 70 hospitals in Tennessee that receive TVR blood have been notified. All have expressed "general concern" about going ahead with scheduled surgeries, Red Cross spokeswoman Patricia M. Smith said.

Anne Neff, director of transfusion services at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said the hospital didn't have many of the Baxter blood bags, so its supply was not affected Sunday.

"Our major concern is that the Red Cross is down 50 percent to 70 percent," she said. "If they don't have anything to supply us with tomorrow or the next day, we could be in bad shape."

The Red Cross was notified Friday about potential problems and blood collected then began to show signs of the white material, Smith said. About 10 of the 1,000 units of blood collected in the Baxter bags had signs of the contaminant, but as a precaution all have been quarantined, she said.

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