To help combat a shortage of donated blood in the Washington area, George Washington University Hospital will show movies--"Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "Goldfinger" and "Casablanca"--at a special summer blood drive on Tuesday.
"It keeps people's spirits up," said Molly Moxam, a spokeswoman for the hospital. "It makes blood giving a little more enjoyable."
The blood will be given to the Washington Regional Blood Program, run by the Red Cross, which is collecting less blood than it considers adequate. Blood donation usually drops in the summer, but blood centers throughout the country have reported even lower supplies than normal.
The Red Cross is collecting about 710 pints a day, some 90 less than normal. The blood bank began a special program in July to call past donors of type-O blood, the type which is in most demand, to ask for repeat donations.
"Most donors give once a year, but it's perfectly reasonable to do so four times a year," said Dr. Paul McCurdy, director of the Washington Regional Blood Program. "We do need every unit we can get."
Supplies have improved slightly since July when the Red Cross was not able to fill every hospital's order, McCurdy said, but the 1 1/2- to 2-day reserve falls short of the 5-day reserve the blood bank prefers. Hospitals also keep a 5-to-15-day supply of blood.
"The biggest problem is coming up, after Labor Day when all the surgeons and patients return from vacation and the operating rooms are full," McCurdy said.
Although fear surrounding AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) has prompted telephone calls from concerned citizens, McCurdy said there is no way to determine if this fear is keeping donors away. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued bulletins stating that AIDS is not contracted by donating blood. However, McCurdy said an occasional blood drive has been canceled across the country because of unwarranted fears about AIDS.
The blood drive at George Washington Hospital is aimed at the 3,000 members of its own staff, but outsiders are welcome if they reserve a time by calling 676-3415, said Moxam.
"Obviously, someone who's working can't stay for the 2 1/2 hours the films run," she said. "But they're pleasant to watch while recovering."
The movies were donated by a hospital employe and will be shown on video terminals that are more commonly used for medical instruction.