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Picture of a blood drive.

Is the Republican shutdown going to cost lives? Well, at a minimum it's making it more difficult for federal workers to volunteer to do something that saves lives:

Thirty-eight percent of the population is eligible to give blood, but only 5 percent actually does so. A lot of that 5 percent apparently works for the federal government. Thanks to the shutdown, in just two days, four federal agency blood drives scheduled by one DC-area health care system have been canceled. The regional Red Cross has had to cancel six others in the Washington region.

Inova Blood Donor Services projects that the cancelations will result in its projected loss of 300 donations that would have helped 900 patients in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Inova's donated blood collections supply 24 hospitals, which bank much of the blood for inevitable disasters or, say, terrorist attacks. The Red Cross is suffering from similar disruptions, projecting the loss of 229 donations, each of which could potentially save up to three lives. A single major trauma event can easily deplete a hospital's entire blood store. The longer the shutdown goes on, the worse the situation is likely to get.

That's just great. Even better: Washington, D.C.-area blood supplies were already low.

For House Republicans, this is doubtless an unintentional side effect of the shutdown, a bug, not a feature. But it's entirely of a piece with many of the things they did intend, like taking nutrition assistance from low-income women and their babies, depriving domestic violence shelters of funding, and, of course, taking pay from the same federal workers who now won't be donating blood because their offices are closed and the blood drives are canceled. The shutdown is just the latest manifestation of the Republican drive to purge our society of any idea of the common good, to ruthlessly strip us of the notion that helping the vulnerable—with food, with safety, with blood—is valuable or even worthwhile. Tragically, they're in a position to make these things happen even if they can't convince most of us to be as morally withered as they are.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 08:42 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Trying to decide (5+ / 0-)

    if I have reasons or excuses for not having given blood in forever. I definitely had reasons, but over time they may have dwindled to excuses.

  •  Sad but true (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    phonegery, klamothe, lgmcp, nomandates

      However much I dislike the ARC - they are correct about Blood Drives.   Most Blood Centers try and maintain a blood inventory to cover 7 days.

        If blood drives fail to meet inventory needs, that will affect planned surgeries.   It will be something to watch in the next few weeks.   Note Red Blood Cells units have an expiration period of 42 days.  

  •  Plus, more bad health-related news. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dewtx, klamothe, tb mare

    According to the Food Allergy Research and Education group I subscribe to, my health is even more at risk because of the shutdown.

    "USDA and FDA Food Recalls Due to Undeclared Allergens

    "... The information we have at this time indicates that many of the staff who are responsible for processing and distributing recall notices have been furloughed. This means that recalls will, at the very least, be delayed in distribution, and possibly will not be released at all until normal operations resume."

    Thanks, John Boehner!

  •  If they stop ACA (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dewtx, nomandates

    then no one will have insurance so no need for blood drives.

    Republician Congresspersons are all vampires so can go find their own blood.

    I am a statistician, not a magician although we are easily confused. I guess that explains why people keep trying to tie me in chains and place me under water.

    by Edge PA on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 11:06:26 AM PDT

  •  So GOP hurt by their own antics (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hohenzollern

    I want 1 less Tiny Coffin, Why Don't You? Support The President's Gun Violence Plan.

    by JML9999 on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 11:13:34 AM PDT

  •  Keep calling attention to these things (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MHB, klamothe, kitebro

    Over on Fox TV, they love to say: So the government is shut down, you hardly notice it. Yawn.

    The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

    by deebee on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 11:16:25 AM PDT

  •  People will die because of this. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    klamothe

    This makes me so goddamn fucking mad that I have to step back from it for now.

    •  I think what we need (0+ / 0-)

      is to get madder and turn that anger into real action for change.  They are threatening our lives, over and over again, and we can't step back.  

      Justice For Will Will spent his brief, courageous life fighting for the rights we all take for granted. Please share his story to support the fight!

      by KibbutzAmiad on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 11:27:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not likely. (0+ / 0-)

      I think you fell for the implication that the diarist was trying to get you to fall for, but didn't actually back up.

      First, this is highly regional -- we now have means of transporting blood from village to village (surprising, I know). Obviously the specific geographic area mentioned will be unusually hard hit temporarily.

      Second, a unit of blood can "potentially save up to three lives" doesn't imply that every unit collected saves three lives (or even one life) -- just that it's possible in theory. Consider that it is estimated that "15.7 million units of whole blood and red blood cells were donated in the United States in 2011". I'm pretty sure that 45 million people in the US didn't even receive a blood product in 2011 - let alone one that saved their life.

      Third, the medical system has ways of dealing with decreases in blood supply. For example, elective surgeries may be delayed when there's a shortage - annoying if you had a face lift scheduled in hopes of recovering fully before your 30th High School Reunion, but hardly life threatening.

      Fourth, the public is usually quite good about stepping up to donate when the need is acute. The less than 600 units (i.e., less than 0.004% of that collected nationwide in 2011) mentioned in the article can likely be easily replaced via a PR campaign (and, sadly, furloughed Federal workers should have more time to respond to such calls and donate now).

      There are a lot of things to worry about with respect to the shutdown. FPer's making imaginary mountains out of grains of sand and implying that these mountains will kill people is counter productive and cheapens the site.

      •  This is not the only threat to life and health (0+ / 0-)

        That this is creating. Far from it:

        NIH clinical trails halted;
        CDC shutting down at the start of flu season;
        Federal law enforcement working on skeleton staffs for no pay;
        USDA inspectors;
        OSHA inspectors;

        Do I need to go on? I can go on.

        I didn't "fall for" anything. Anyone who thinks that this won't cause deaths if it continues is very naive.

        •  You made my point. (0+ / 0-)

          The main focus (headline, quote, and picture) is about the scary claim that the shutdown is making it "harder" to do something that "saves lives" (as if someone will die as a result which is extremely unlikely). It isn't even their job to give blood, any more than it's a private engineer's job or a private gardener's job to give blood -- it's a volunteer act that most Federal workers could still do if they wished (perhaps at a location more convenient to their homes).

          This is completely unlike all the things that you mentioned that are actually Federal employees' jobs to do and they are either not able to do or are having to do the job with delayed pay due to the shutdown.

          [It's my understanding that most NIH clinical trials that were already in flight were continuing, just new ones were not being started and new participants were not being accepted. Is that incorrect?]

          •  Um, I did? (0+ / 0-)

            OK. You're welcome.

            The shutdown is not going to end anytime soon, so come back in a couple of weeks and tell me that no one has died as a result of it. I'll be here.

            •  I never said... (0+ / 0-)

              ...that no one would die as a result of the shutdown. I don't know.

              I was only referring to the absurd specific claim/inference that was the main point of this diary.

              I'm fairly sure, by some definitions of "dying as a result of the shutdown", that someone will die as a result of the shutdown.

              Suppose a furloughed worker who is a recreational skydiver decides to take advantage of her time off and makes a few more jumps than she would have otherwise and dies on one made during "normal working hours". Some (although not myself) would argue this death was a result of the shutdown.

              Suppose a hiker gets lost and dies from exposure in an area that would have been searched earlier (and before his death) had furloughed federal personnel been available. Some (including myself) would argue this death was a result of the shutdown (and the Republicans would bear the vast majority of the blame for this death).

              Suppose a kitchen worker at the Cliff House who was sent home without pay (because the Administration insisted that this private business close down even though no federal resources appear to be required for the business to continue to operate for quite some time) and decided to earn some money by working at another restaurant and suffered a fatal blow to the head when slipping on that restaurant's floor. Some (perhaps myself - depending on the odds of a similar freak accident having happened at the Cliff House) would argue  this death was the result of the shutdown (and the Administration would bear the vast majority of the blame for this death as forcing the Cliff House to close was consistent with the "cause the most pain" counter strategy).

  •  national guard weekend drills cancelled (0+ / 0-)

    States across the country have cancelled weekend drills for the National Guard (typically the first weekend of the month)

  •  Like the law of gravity, (0+ / 0-)

    the law of unintended consequences is always in effect.

    Happy to report that we just had a successful drive where I work (51 units, 2 deferrals).  But we're not a federal agency, so we haven't been impacted... yet.  (See law of unintended consequences, above.)

    I'll believe corporations are people when one comes home from Afghanistan in a body bag.

    by mojo11 on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 11:23:05 AM PDT

  •  Persusing the FaceBook feeds of my 2 Dem senators (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tb mare

    I notice that the usual vitriol from their tea-party constituents is supplemented by a lot of semi-sane conservatives who appear to actually believe this is ok.  They have really convinced themselves that Reid is being shockingly intransigent, and is irresponsible by refusing to compromise.  

    It's weird.  It's like they either don't own a mirror or don't make a reflection when they stand in front of one.

    Hello?  Anybody home?  Could maybe your guys compromise on the idea that, for starters,  maybe they should just live with a law that they don't have the votes to overturn?  

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 11:24:48 AM PDT

  •  Donated yesterday in Northern Virginia (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tb mare

    The need for donors in our area because of the shutdown was known so I got off my butt and to one of the Inova blood donation centers.  The good news is it was packed in the middle of the afternoon.  It was good to see so many respond.  It was well staffed as many of those that were to be part of the Federal blood drives where reassigned to the donor centers.

  •  combine this perfect statement (0+ / 0-)
    many of the things they did intend, like taking nutrition assistance from low-income women and their babies, depriving domestic violence shelters of funding, and, of course, taking pay from the same federal workers who now won't be donating blood because their offices are closed and the blood drives are canceled. The shutdown is just the latest manifestation of the Republican drive to purge our society of any idea of the common good, to ruthlessly strip us of the notion that helping the vulnerable—with food, with safety, with blood—is valuable or even worthwhile.
    and put it together with this description by Fox's Stuart Varney (net worth: $10 million) which clearly describes the the contempt the GOP feels for public workers:
    I'm sick and tired of a massive, bloated federal bureaucracy living on our backs, and taking money out of us, a lot more money than most of us earn in the private sector [snip] I'm getting screwed. Here I am, a private citizen, paying an inordinate amount of money in tax. I've got a slow economy because it's all government, all the time. And these people are living on our backs, regulating us, telling us what to do, taxing us, taking our money, and living large. This is my chance to say "hey, I'm fed up with this and I don't miss you when you're on furlough." Sorry if that's a harsh tone, but that's the way I feel.
    Together, they make a picture of the disgustingly self-centered cruelty displayed by those who have hijacked our country.

    "It ain't right, Atticus," said Jem. "No, son, it ain't right." --Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

    by SottoVoce on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 11:25:46 AM PDT

  •  at what point (0+ / 0-)

    does an opponent become an enemy?  When they begin to try to deprive you of a living wage job?  Health care?  Because things seem - in my view -perilously close to this point.

    Justice For Will Will spent his brief, courageous life fighting for the rights we all take for granted. Please share his story to support the fight!

    by KibbutzAmiad on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 11:26:28 AM PDT

  •  Had To Use Your Quote (0+ / 0-)

    I used this quote:  "The shutdown is just the latest manifestation of the Republican drive to purge our society of any idea of the common good, to ruthlessly strip us of the notion that helping the vulnerable—with food, with safety, with blood—is valuable or even worthwhile." as my remark when I posted this article on Facebook.

    It says it all.

    Thanks for putting into words what I feel but cannot express.

  •  Important people are not impacted by the shutdown (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite

    why the hell should they care if the excess population inconvenienced to the point of death?

    Feature, not a bug.

    Obama: self-described Republican; backed up by right-wing policies

    by The Dead Man on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 11:55:31 AM PDT

  •  Blood drive shut down by bloodsuckers. Typical. nt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, nomandates
  •  Blood Suckers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nomandates

    Teddy and I just want to say to America that Sucking out the lifeblood of America should be left to experts like us.

    Yours Truly,
    John of Orange

  •  Beset by the tea party, who would have his (0+ / 0-)

    head as House leader should he cross them, Boehner was thought to have uttered 'they need blood? well let them transfuse plasma.'

  •  Can't they find other venues? (0+ / 0-)

    With all those people on furlough, I'm guessing that many of them would be delighted to go give blood. Surely there is a college campus, bank, YMCA, hospital auditorium, whatever that would be glad to host alternate sites.

    That's what happens in the rest of the country, where there aren't all those federal agencies to host collections.

    Or the affiliates in other states could loan mobile vans that are used for collection.

    Of the problems to be solved, this one seems like it can be handled.

    •  But the workers won't be there (0+ / 0-)

      You are asking workers who are not being paid to make their daily commute to somewhere other than their office. You are asking the Red Cross and other organizations to put this together on no notice and somehow get the word out with no lead time.

      I donate packed red blood cells on a regular schedule, as often as permitted by safety rules. There is some factor in my blood that makes that more useful than donating whole blood. I started giving blood regularly in college, interrupted by service in the Peace Corps in Korea and some other factors from time to time. I have been a member of organizations that put on blood drives.

      Go to your local blood bank and offer to get on the regular donation list, and ask which form of donation would provide the greatest benefits to the community. There are frequent shortages for no good reason even without the government in shutdown. Our blood donation rate is pitiful, far worse than our voting rate.

      Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

      by Mokurai on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 01:29:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Death panels in full force eom (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nomandates

    Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

    by Mokurai on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 01:21:20 PM PDT

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