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Okinawa's blood reserves still at perilously low level

Date Posted: 2003-02-08

The Okinawa Prefecture's blood supplies continue to be at preciously low levels, although Okinawa Red Cross Officials' recent plea to the public has resulted in slight improvement of the situation.

The Red Cross has run advertisements in newspapers and other mass media urging people to donate blood. Adequate supplies are needed to avoid a catastrophe should any urgent need for blood arise.

Officials say that the blood reserves in the prefecture at the beginning of February were at 53 percent of what is considered adequate. They were only at 47 percent as of Jan. 31, but a campaign conducted over the first weekend of February managed to attract an unusually high number of donors, helping to alleviate the situation a little.

A Red Cross spokesman say that the operation at the San-A Naha Main Place proved to be especially effective, as more than 75 people donated blood in the Red Cross mobile blood donation center. He said the number was 150% more than they expect on normal weekends. "We were especially happy to see many young people line up for donation. That shows that our efforts to publicize our plight has been effective and people understand the situation," one Red Cross official said.

An office worker, Yuichiro Ura, 29, agreed. "I read in a newspaper that the prefecture's blood supply was in critical shape, so I decided to do my part," Ura said, adding, "I never know when I may need blood myself and if I do, I want to be sure that there's enough available."

Red Cross officials say there's a benefit for blood donors as well. "When you donate blood it will be tested, and if a problem is detected, a donor will be notified "so you can seek needed medical attention even if you were not aware of your condition before," a nurse working at the mobile donation unit said.

Although the blood supply situation has improved slightly, it's far from satisfactory. "We consider anything less than 70 percent of the adequate supply a serious situation", a Red Cross official said. "That means that we still need to double our efforts to reach that level. We urge everyone to come to donate blood wherever they see our mobile donation unit parked, or come straight to the Red Cross Hospital in Naha City. We will be happy to see anyone," he added.

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