Swine Flu Shrinks Nation's Blood Supply

Donor pool dries up amid absenteeism at schools, offices
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 10, 2009 7:50 AM CST
Researchers are testing large numbers of blood samples to discover whether the H1N1 virus can be spread through blood transfusions.   (Shutter Stock)

(Newser) – America's blood supply is suffering from the H1N1 pandemic. Blood centers nationwide are seeing a drop in donations as school and businesses cancel blood drives because of absenteeism; they're also having to dump blood already donated as an increasing number of donors report flu-like symptoms after giving. Centers say they have enough blood to cope for now but fear shortages if the pandemic worsens, the Wall Street Journal reports.

If swine flu continues to disrupt blood collection through the holiday period, "we are really going to need more donors," says a Red Cross director. There is no evidence that influenza can be transmitted through blood transfusions, but researchers have been testing hundreds of blood samples in case the H1N1 virus starts behaving differently from other flu viruses.