Financial problems continue to cause problems for Puerto Rico as the Red Cross announced Wednesday that it would stop collecting blood on the island. The order will be put into effect in October, causing more than 200 people to lose their jobs. The centers in Puerto Rico can no longer afford to handle blood with its current system in which donation clinics send blood to facilities in Philadelphia for processing after its processing center was shut down several years ago, VOXXI reported.
The center in Puerto Rico experienced its best months to date recently, with 80,000 pints of blood collected last year, Antionio de Vera, local executive director of blood services, told reporters. He said the announcement came as a surprise considering the center's performance. Puerto Rican Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla wrote a letter to the CEO of the Red Cross to mitigate the situation.
"There is no other non-profit organization in Puerto Rico with the experience and organizational capability to serve a population of almost 4 million," he wrote.
Despite the closures, the move will not affect the blood going into the island. The annual collections of blood nationwide have dropped from 6.5 million to 5.5 million, causing the organization to have to cut staff, officials said.
"The Red Cross provides approximately 62,000 units of blood each year to 52 hospitals throughout Puerto Rico and we will continue to meet these needs through our national inventory," Stephanie Millian, Red Cross spokeswoman, said in a statement.
Platelet donations will still be accepted in Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rican government has also reminded its residents of the other locations to donate blood on the island, such as the Puerto Rico Blood Bank.