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Blood Pressure's Rising

Red Cross increases cost of blood to pay off debt

The Red Cross is raising its prices for blood.

A pint of red blood cells now costs a hospital between $130 and $150, and that cost is expected to rise between 10 percent and 35 percent by July, reports this article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The price increase is expected to help pay off the organization's $300 million debt. The debt was incurred because of implementation of stricter blood safety measures, says the article.

"Safety and availability is our No. 1 priority. We want to be able to ensure tomorrow's blood supply by investing in today's," says Jacquelyn Frederick, who is in charge of collecting and distributing blood nationally for the American Red Cross.

Frederick says the Red Cross, which provides about half the donor blood in the United States, doesn't expect the price increase to affect supply. But she stresses that blood supplies are still critically low in many areas of the country.

The shortage shows little signs of abating. Demand for blood products is increasing because more people are having surgery and other medical treatments that require lots of blood. At the same time, donations are decreasing.

If you'd like to donate blood, go to the Red Cross Web site and type in your zip code to find the Red Cross location closest to you.

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