Blood Services swamped in wake of tragedy

United Blood Services in Carson City was overwhelmed Tuesday as hundreds flocked to give blood in the wake of the terrorist attack which destroyed New York's World Trade Center, four commercial jet liners and part of the Pentagon.

"I got a call early this morning from Dr. Elizabeth Jack, who said the blood will be shipped east," said Dr. David Tillitt, Carson-Tahoe Hospital's chief of staff. "Most elective surgeries here will be canceled because of the huge need. We're trying to get as much blood there as we can and everyone can help. E It's pretty amazing that someone's hip surgery at Carson-Tahoe Hospital could be canceled by an explosion at the World Trade Center."

According to spokeswoman Nyla Emerson, the response has been overwhelming. Those waiting to be drawn are volunteering by taking phone calls in shifts. Safeway Food & Drug, Schlotzky's Deli and the Carson Nugget sent food, cookies and bagged meals for donors and Nevada state employees sent money for supplies.

"The Rotary called up and said they had a list of 100 donors," she said. "Locals here feel the need to do something."

One phone volunteer took a call from a prospective donor who wanted to know if he could give after contracting hepatitis. Another wondered if he could give after smoking marijuana.

New York native Vick Gentiluomo, currently a satellite general supervisor for United Blood Services, said he watched the towers go up. He said the depth of the tragedy hasn't hit him yet because he hasn't had time to think. The phone at United Blood Services started ringing at 7 a.m., and hasn't stopped. He marveled at the tremendous spirit of Carson City residents as they streamed into the little office on Winnie Lane.

"This is incredible," he said. "It gives me goose bumps, knowing the people of Carson City are so truly committed."

United Blood Services has not yet been notified where to send blood, but expects a call in a day or two, according to Tom Choi, executive director.

He said if blood donations are constant and continuous, Blood Services will be in a better position to help in New York and Washington, D.C.

"The natural reaction is to want to come in and donate blood immediately," Choi said. "I want to assure people that the need for blood in connection with these emergencies will be ongoing."

A nonprofit community blood center, United Blood Services provides blood and blood components for patients in area medical facilities. There are 17 centers around the country providing blood for patients in more than 500 medical facilities throughout the United States.

For information, call United Blood Services in Carson City at 887-9111. In Reno, the number is 329-6451.

The American Red Cross is currently volunteering at United Blood Services in Reno, helping out with snacks and beverages and about 20 volunteers are ready, should they be asked to assist in either Washington, D.C., or New York.

"People are calling in to volunteer their time," said Donna Brand, spokesperson for the American Red Cross. "Right now we are on standby like everyone else but we are accepting donations to our disaster relief fund."

Donations can be sent to The American Red Cross disaster relief fund,

1190 Corporate Boulevard, Reno, Nev., 89502, or by calling 1 (800) helpnow.

The CareFlight emergency medical helicopter program, operated by the Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority, is available to respond to medical emergencies.

While the Federal Aviation Administration has grounded all commercial flights and closed all airports throughout the nation due to the suspected terrorist attacks, CareFlight has received authorization to continue service for medical emergencies.

In Carson City, call 775-887-9111.

In Reno, call 775-329-6451.


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