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Charlotte Area

Southeast's blood supply slows to a trickle

The effects of the recession are trickling all the way down to the blood supply. The American Red Cross says it's getting 7 percent fewer donors this summer than it got last year, and the need for blood has reached critical levels across the Southeast. High unemployment in the Charlotte region means there are fewer workers around to donate at corporate blood drives. Red Cross spokeswoman Kate Meier says making a free donation also seems less appealing to people in need of cash. "I will get a phone call once every so often from someone asking how much we pay for blood and I say 'Well, we don't. You know it's voluntary,'" says Meier. "And they say they'll go elsewhere. So I mean that's part of it too. You can donate plasma at certain places and they'll pay for it." If donations stay at the current pace, Meier says the blood supply will reach emergency levels by Labor Day. That could force local hospitals to delay surgeries, since the Red Cross supplies fifty-percent of the region's blood needs.