State Briefs

Posted: Sunday, November 25, 2001

Blood donations up in Alaska

ANCHORAGE - Until Sept. 11, Jim Decker had given blood only sporadically through donation campaigns at BP, where he works as a corporate lawyer.

Then came the terrorist attacks. Like thousands of other Americans, Decker felt compelled to give blood that very day. By 6:45 a.m., he was standing at the doors of the Anchorage-based Blood Bank of Alaska. Altogether, 270 first-timers were among the 708 Alaskans who showed up that day - five times the usual number.

Decker, who has become a member of the blood bank's board of directors, said he plans to continue donating regularly. But he doesn't have much company. Only about 15 first-timers have returned following the required 56-day waiting period between donations, blood bank officials said.

"We appreciate that people came here because of a national tragedy, but there are tragedies here, too," blood-bank spokesman Greg Shoemaker said.

Still, overall donations are up considerably for the state's only blood-collection source. The blood bank is affiliated with America's Blood Centers, a network of nonprofit blood centers in the United States and Quebec, Canada.

The Alaska branch has satellite centers in Wasilla and Soldotna and a bloodmobile.

In September, the bank collected 2,187 units of blood, 375 more units than the previous September. October donations fell to 1,923 units, still a 165-unit jump over the previous October. The blood bank needs 2,000 units a month to meet the needs throughout the state, said Shoemaker.

None of the blood collected in Alaska ever made it to the East Coast, Shoemaker said. The New York Blood Center, an affiliate, collected 5,000 units the first 24 hours, which turned out to be more than enough.

"Tragically, as time went on, they realized there would be no survivors who would need the blood," Shoemaker said.

Anthrax ruled out in Juneau mail carrier

JUNEAU - The Centers for Disease Control has ruled out anthrax in a Juneau postal worker who developed a suspicious rash on her nose, according to a post office spokeswoman.

The postal worker, who was not identified, went to the emergency room at Bartlett Regional Hospital two weeks ago for treatment of the rash, and doctors put her on Cipro as a precaution, said Connie Lightner, post office spokeswoman in Anchorage.

The hospital did not test the woman for anthrax but sent a photograph of the rash to the CDC, which ruled out the bacteria after analyzing the image, she said.

"They did not identify it as anthrax," Lightner said.

The employee, a mail carrier at the Mendenhall Valley branch, has been on sick leave for two weeks, she said.

Skater's Cabin rehab contract awarded

JUNEAU - The U.S. Forest Service has awarded Phase 3 of the Mendenhall Campground/Skater's Cabin rehabilitation contract to Channel Construction Inc.

Phase 3 includes reconstruction of the Skater's cabin picnic site, replacement of vault toilets, a handicapped-accessible ramp to the lakeside beach, shoreline stabilization, a trail connection to the Mendenhall Campground and a drinking water source faced with rustic stone.

The site will be closed during construction, but the West Glacier road and trailhead will remain open. The contract is scheduled to be completed by Jan. 31.

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