Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on July 20, 1975 · Page 60
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July 20, 1975

Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 60

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 20, 1975
Page 60
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Page 60 article text (OCR)

l*^******)^*****,,^... ^ ... ... .^.. ...,.,.... .. A :_."' -, ... !j.-w it ^u : »^^. l .-^?^ l ^; fc '.^.^.^ .:..,,, Technician handles red cells to be refrigerated. Whole human blood ready for the next emergency. Blood: An Emergency Every 17 Seconds By Harold C. Gadd Last spring, two despairing parents paced the halls of Holzer Medical Center, 385 Jackson Pike, Gallipolis, Ohio. They were at their wits' end. In one of the cribs of the infant ward, their tiny daughter was fast approaching her final moments of life. Leukemia! Subconsciously, to most of us, leukemia is perhaps the most dreaded word in any language. Certainly, it had a nightmare quality for those two in Holzer. Blood transfusions could help her, but their baby had a rare blood type. The hospital couldn't match it. The parents couldn't match it. Their friends couldn't match it. Could the Red Cross match it? Unknown to the anxious mother and father, the Red Cross was trying, but it was having troubles. Technicians working on the problem in the Tri-State Blood Center in Huntington had found one donor. They needed another. One unit of blood is seldom enough in leukemia. Then someone remembered a worker on the midnight to 8 a.m. shift in a Huntington factory. He had come forward in an earlier emergency. Would he again-? Blood center volunteers tried his home telephone. It was out of order. Against their own rules, they called the factory where he worked and left an urgent message. When he returned the call, Red Cross personnel crossed their fin- 4m CHARLESTON, W. VA. gers as they asked him the crucial questions: Did he feel all right? Well and healthy? Would he come in and donate blood again? He did, he was, and he would. Within a few hours, his life-saving blood was being rushed to Gallipolis. An unusual case? Unfortunately, no. Common. All too common. Workers at the Tri-State Red Cross Blood Program can rattle off similar emergencies as fast as they can talk. Nationwide, there is a blood emergency every 17 seconds. Too often there isn't a happy ending to the stories. A Bluefield man needed surgery for a lung tumor. His blood type was so unusual very few known donors in the entire country could match it. One lived in Bangor, Me. Another was in Los Angeles, Calif. That story had a happy ending. A Charleston woman now needs surgery, but so far the Red Cross hasn't been able to match her blood--anywhere. She is delaying her surgery until she can bank enough of her own blood to carry her through. With modern techniques, she can do it if she can put off the surgery long enough. Her story may have a happy ending. During World War II, when a blood bank program was first organized on a massive scale, plasma saved countless lives on the battle- field and in field hospitals. Although there have been tremendous advances in the knowledge of how to use and store blood, in one way we have slipped backward. Without the agony of war to highlight the need for blood donations, the corps of those who will give some of their life to save someone else has been sadly depleted. As you read this, there is in your body from 19 to 12 pints of the most precious substance in the world. In every respect, it is the liauid of life. Your body normally has an ex- . cess. You have a pint, even a quart, to handle accidental losses of your blood reservoir. That's to protect you against wounds that cause you to lose some of your supply. But what happens if you rupture your body plumbing in an automobile accident, or other mishap, and suddenly lose more than your body laws will allow? What happens if you get an insidious blood disease like leukemia- that destroys some parts of what you have in your reservoir? What happens if you have to go into surgery where expert fingers and the most modern clamps cannot prevent "excessive" blood loss? The answer to^all those questions is the joker in the deck of modern living. For all our wisdom, scientific advances, man-on-the-moon tech- nology, we're ages away from being able to create the simple fluid we call blood. It has to come from someone who is alive. The life and death battles that go on every hour of the day and night in the hospitals are never detailed in print for newspaper readers. Since we get no reports on that never-ending war, we tend to ignore it until suddenly it swirls around us. Another part of the apathy toward participation in the blood bank program is caused by misunderstanding and--strangely enough--antagonism toward the Red Cross role in it. How often have you heard--or made--this remark: "I gave my blood voluntarily, but then Red Cross turned around and sold it." Almost always such a criticism is followed by an example in personal experience when blood had to be "bought." The truth is, Red Cross does not sell blood. Part of the cost of collecting it, processing it, and distributing it is passed on to the hospitals and thus on to you. Part! Not all! For example, the Red Cross handling fee for whole blood is $19.50. It is $19.50 even if it is an extremely rare type and has to be flown in from Bangor Me., or Los Angeles, Calif. Whole blood from a professional donor starts at $50 a unit and can be three or four times that costly. The $19.50 Red Cross fee doesn't really cover the cost of processing even a common type of blood. The deficit is made up from United Fund contributions. Here are some other common misconceptions about the blood program: "Frankly, I'm scared ,of giving blood." (Most persons are the first time,,but discover to their surprise it really isn't a big deal as an experience.) "My insurance covers the blood I'd need." (Probably--if your type is available--somewhere. You may need lots of luck.) "Other people must be giving enough blood." (Unfortunately, they are not. The supply doesn't equal the demand.) . . "I don't have any blood to spare." (You have 10 to 12 pints in your body. If you're healthy, you can spare one from time to time.) "I'm too young." (In many states you can donate if you're 17 years old, but some states require parental consent if you're under 18.) "My blood isn't the right type." (It may be exactly the right type to save someone's life.) "I'm too busy." (If the time comes when you need blood--pray that the person who has your type isn't too busy.) "They'll take too much and I'll feel weak." (Less.than a pint is taken. Within a few hours, your body will replace it. Most donors get up and go about their usual activities.) "If too many give blood, a lot of it will be wasted." That is such a serious misconception it warrants a more detailed answer. First, no donated blood is ever "wasted." So great is the demand, so careful is the processing and handling of blood in the area served by the Tri-State Blood Program that less than one percent a year is even outdated. And that one percent outdated blood is used for pooled plasma and broken down into derivatives for other patient needs. Blood is much too precious to waste. The Tri-State and other Red Cross blood programs maintain what is known as a "balancced" distribution". That means each hospital served is stocked with units of whole blood and red cells. The center can immediately supply cry- oprecipitates, platelet concentrates, plasma protein fraction, fresh frozen plasma, serum albumin, and anti-hemophiliac fraction when needed. Those complicated terms may mean nothing to you, but they indicate that one unit of your blood can save six lives. For example, leukemia victims need platelet con- centrates. Patients bleeding internally need red cells Badly bumed patients need frozen plasma. Continuing with the "balanced distribution," there are eight different blood groups: 0 positive, 0 negative, A positive, A negative, B positive, B negative, AB positive, and--rarest of all--AB negative. Only one-half of one percent of the people in the United States have AB negative. If Tri-State gets a surplus of one type and a shortage of another, it shops around blood centers in other parts of the nation for a trade. Waco, Texas, for example, may be short of the type Tri-State has a surplus of, but have plenty of what Tri-State needs at the moment. Usually, "balanced distribution" goes smoothly, but sometimes it doesn't, and sometimes it gets very complicated. An example: Platelet concentrates deteriorate in about six hours if left as whole blood or red cells, so most distribution centers keep a supply just ahead of the demand. Recently, a Louisville hospital had a big surge in demand for platelets and started making emergency calls to blood centers over much of the East. The fifth call was to Tri-State, who found seven units of platelets in Charleston and 16 in Parkersburg. State Police rushed the seven from Charleston to Huntington. The Wood County sheriff delivered the 16 from Parkersburg to the Air National Guard headquarters there. Maj. Tom Ersham took over, flew to Huntington, picked up the Charleston packet, then flew on to Louisville. If blood emergencies weren't so serious, distribution might provide a laugh now and then. There was the time, not long ago, when an Ohio helicopter was flying blood into Huntington and started to land at the Chesapeake Airport -- which is closed. Well-meaning bystanders, not knowing his mission, frantically tried to wave him away from the closed airport. But Red Cross personnel, standing by to pick up the blood, were even more frantically trying to get him to set down. "Don't wave him away! Don't wave him away! He's bringing in rare blood!" Finally, everyone got the message and the perplexed pilot was permitted to land. Right now, the Red Cross and the region itself is facing an emergency in Tri-State's Huntington headquarters: Lack of space. in 1951, the blood center was built to process a maximum of 20,000 units of whole blood in glass bottles yearly. During the last five years alone, the demand for blood has more than doubled. Now, well over 40,000 units a year are processed and tested. It is estimated that in the next five years, 80,000 units a year will be needed to satisfy the area's demands. And. it will cost about $2.9 million to build a center to handle the exploding demand.-That's got to be the granddaddy of all emergencies, but somehow the Red Cross and their volunteers will handle it. They always do. With help, of course. - SPEAKING OF BOOKS A surprise from Shirley "YOU CAN GET THERE FROM HERE,'" by Shirley Mac- Laine, W. W. Norton, $7.95 I have never been a big fan of Shirley MacLaine's. She is certainly a talented movie actress, but I believe that her "cuteness" has been over-exploited in some of her films. I must admit, however, that I was curious when I got my hands on Shirley's latest book, "You Can Get There From Here." It is so unusual for a movie star to write a book, especially without a ghost writer, that the results are bound to be interesting. Shirley's book was a pleasant surprise. It reveals sensitivity, perceptiveness, and a refreshing honesty; and it is obvious that the author possesses a keen mind. The book is a kind of potpourri, divided into three main sections, which have little relationship to each other. First Shirley describes her disastrous venture into her television series, "Shirley's World," which turned out to be a real bomb. Next, she depicts her work, in the 1972 presidential campaign, for .the candidacy of Sen. George McGovern, a project which also ended in failure. And finally, she devotes the major portion of her book to a description of her excursion through China, accompanied by a handpicked delegation of 11 other American women. Shirley has the novelist's gift of vividly describing experiences and scenes. In fact, one brief segment in the book describing her return to her mother and father's home, reads more like a passage in a novel, than an autobiography. In writing of the events leading to her television fiasco, she creates a vivid picture of her first meeting with the flamboyant English producer, Law Grade, in his elaborate London office. And she presents a , devastating portrait of the American producer and former actor, Sheldon Leonard. For Shirley, Leonard is a symbol of the shoddiness of American television entertainment, and his weakness is that he doesn't "want to do it the hard way anymore." If there is a villain in the book, it is Sheldon Leonard. Shirley's brief account of the McGovern campaign reveals nothing really new, although she does relate some rather interesting anecdotes. Shirley, like most other Americans, could not understand McGovern. He peeps out in her book, just as he did in the media during the campaign, as an enigmatic, lackluster, weak, and indecisive man. The longest, and most interesting, section of the book describes the excursion of Shirley's delegation through Red China. Her account is interesting, not only for what it reveals about the new China, but also for its vivid depiction of the travellers' reactions to the experience. Shirley describes her travelling companions and their increasing frictions with a refreshing frankness; and, as I read the book, I wondered, how she could be so free in her comments, since her companions would obviously later be reading about themselves in her book. In fact, I have heard rumors that some of Shirley's fellow travellers have since lashed out against her, call- ing her spoiled, and accusing her of exploitation. Some of the women emerge as shallow; and in attempting to put their reactions to China into words, some of their comments are quite stupid. Shirley, herself, at times, appears somewhat petty, especially when she tattles on her companions, as when she observes that one girl passed up a chance to see a Revolutionary Opera, and went instead to see "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," and when she comments on how another companion missed seeing the Hall of People, and instead, stayed in her hotel room, making posters. Shirley's condescending attitude to some of her American companions definitely shows through, at times. Since the trip to China was brief and carefully controlled, the account is bound to be somewhat superficial, but Shirley does provide brief, tantalizing descriptions of Hong Kong, Canton, Shangai, Peking, and Yenan, where the Revolution began. The picture that emerges is of a society that is the direct antithesis, in every respect, to the American world; and it is not surprising that the experience was so disturbing to the travellers. Especially interesting are the accounts of the changed status of women in China. Before the Revolution, women were regarded as slaves; and wives were frequently beaten just for custom's sake. However, after the Revolution, women have come closer to equality with men. The most moving section in the book is the long narrative of a Chinese woman, Tarn Lin Po, who vividly describes her exploitation under the old regime, and her escape to the freedom offered by the Red Army. If her former life is representative of the lives of millions of poor people before the Revolution, then the old China must have been hell. Shirley's own reactions to what she saw are mixed. She is obviously moved and impressed by what the Chinese people have accomplished, and she is disturbed by the contrasting negative picture of her own country that emerges. But she is no myopic idealist, and she sees weaknesses in the new China. She is most concerned about the lack of freedom for artistic expresson, ancY she concludes that even though she admires China, she could never live there. "You Can Get There from Here" does not pretend to be profound, but its very unpretentiousness is its main charm. And Shirley's observations about what she saw are tantalizing enough to encourage the interested reader to study more thoroughly the Chinese Revolution. Trevor Owen Dr. Owen ii an associate professor of English at Davit and Elktai College. Book for hill lovers "THE SOUTHERN APPALACHIANS," by Charlton Ogburn, Morrow, $14.95. If you 're a real fan of all mountains, and particularly the Southern Appalachians, you'll enjoy this book by the author of "The Marauders," ari earlier vintage book about Merrill's Marauders of World War II fame. But if your interest in mountains, even the Appalachians, is only casual, you'll probably find yourself, as I did, rifling through most of the book to get down to the subject of local interest, which is the. Appalachians in West Virginia. On balance, Ogburn must be given high marks for his presentation of West Virginia's mountains, and although he doesn't say so, one gets the feeling that the West Virginia hills are his favorite among the Appalachian range. For example, he proposes a National Scenic Reserve for West Virginia, where old buildings would be restored and preserved, where wild areas would be set aside and where the people would be very much a part of the picture--unlike most federal projects where people are bought out and moved off their ancestral land. Ogburn, a native of Georgia who now lives in Virginia near Washington, D.C., finds the West Virginia mountain country charming for the same reason that many of the outsiders now moving into the state find it charming: it is relatively undiscovered and underpopulated. All StdtkMaja!iine, r 3uly20;.l975. that may change in time, which is one reason Ogburn proposes a National Scenic Reserve here. Ogburn shows an antihunting bias on a couple of occasions in his West Virginia chapter. For example, he tells about meeting a deer hunter on Dolly Sods who related that he had once been snowbound for 10 days on the Sods. ("Too bad^tt couldn't have been worse" Ogburn said as an aside.) He didn't point out that deer hunters, native West Virginians, have been visiting and enjoying Dolly Sods long before he discovered it. As a matter of fact, deer hunters discovered the Sods before most of the environmentalists who currently regard it as their own creation. Ogburn even had a slight barb for fishermen, mentioning the litter and initial-carving he found at an Adirondack-type shelter on Cranberry River. It occurred to me, as reader of the book and as a fisherman, that a lot of people besides fishermen use the U.S. Forest Service shelters on Cranberry and elsewhere. But overall, Ogburn's remarks on West Virginia and its mountains are pretty close to the mark, and I'll almost forgive his references to hunters and fishermen in appreciation of his "venomous contempt" for motorcyclists who persist in charging through wild areas and along remote trails. --Skip Johnson CHARLESTON, w.

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