In the left corner, George the right corner, Bill O'Reilly : LUSENET : Unk's Troll-free Private Saloon : One Thread

Hollywood strikes back

By Bill O'Reilly

George Clooney is after me. Tom Hanks thinks I'm a jerk. And Faith Hill is disgusted with your humble correspondent. That last one hurts.

All of this fear and loathing is the result of my asking one simple question: If a celebrity asks for money for a charitable cause, does that celebrity have any responsibility to see that the money donated finds its way to the cause?

At issue are the concerts and TV telethon that raised hundreds of millions of dollars for the grieving families of the terror victims. As of four weeks after the attack, the United Way, which is distributing the donations, had more than $200 million in the bank according to its own records, but had dispersed only 15 percent of the money it had collected to agencies in a position to help the families.

And the Red Cross has told Congress that as much as 80 percent of the money it has received through 9-11 fundraisers will not go to the families. Instead, it will be used by the Red Cross for other projects.

Right now 160 charities have received money that was donated to help the families. Yet very few of those charities have contacted the grieving people. They are not proactive. They want the people who are burying dead husbands and wives, to seek them out. They want the families to ask for money – money that was donated by generous Americans so that these families would not have to deal with this kind of angst.

The House Ways and Means Committee is holding hearings on the matter. The attorney general of New York is supposedly setting up a website to help the families, yet that is taking a very, very long time. And Elliot Spitzer is not exactly taking to the airwaves publicizing it.

The United Way is thinking about running television public-service announcements to tell the families where they can get information and help. They've been thinking about that for more than a month. It hasn't happened yet.

In light of all these facts, I asked the telethon celebrities to issue a statement on the chaotic charity situation. None of them would.

So I went on television and named some of those famous people who would not respond. Wooo. All of a sudden statements came flying faster than a Letterman wise crack. George Clooney called me a liar. Tom Hanks said my reporting was a TV "sweeps" stunt. Faith Hill said she was appalled that I would dare to question the telethon.

Only four out of more than 100 celebrities stepped up and voiced any concern that the donated money was not being handled properly: Clint Eastwood, the singer James Brown, Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. They didn't all agree with me about celebrity accountability, but at least they cared enough to discuss the issue.

People are asking me if I am surprised by the vicious tone of some of the Hollywood attacks on me. No, I'm not. Many of these people are outraged that someone in the press would attempt to hold them accountable for anything. After all, they are stars. They lead lives of privilege and are rarely confronted with the realities of life as long as they are making big money.

Most stars have publicists who pretty much tell them what to say and how to act in public. These publicists threaten anyone who would criticize a star with banishment. That is, if you say something negative, the star will never talk to you again, and neither will anyone he knows. Thus the entertainment press is effectively blackmailed. Only the tabloid press can scrutinize the famous.

The serious press rarely even pays attention to celebrities because what they do is not important to national security or general welfare. I very rarely venture into celebrity territory. But these stars got great publicity at those telethons and millions of Americans believed their pitch. So I really wanted to know how the celebrities viewed the charity disaster that has unfolded. Boy, did I find out.

Call me cynical, but I now believe that most of these "stars" are far more interested in themselves than trying to get relief to the grieving families. A statement of concern is very easy to release. But most of them simply could not be bothered.

Now they're hot and bothered – and I say good. A phony is a phony. And no overpaid publicist is going to change that.

-- Uncle Deedah (, November 09, 2001


O'Reilly raises an important issue. However----

1)-O'Reilly makes $4 million a year. How much did he contribute to the victims and by what means?

2)-The charities in question can't give out the money willy-nilly. It takes time for them to cross-reference who is getting what from which charity. It takes time to verify that a claim is valid. There might be thousands of fake claims.

3)-Just as some of the entertainers may have done this charity gig (and others) to promote their careers, O'Reilly may be promoting his career by conjuring all this outrage.

Methinks he doth protest too much.

-- (, November 09, 2001.

O'Reilly is an asshole. He's jumping onto the bash-Hollywood bandwagon so that he can sell his new book to the rightwing Rush Limbaugh crowd. They just love to eat this shit up.

If he had any balls he'd go after the Red Cross and The United Way, not the celebs who worked hard to raise the money.

How much did he donate?

-- (O'Reilly@lowlife.scumbag), November 09, 2001.

The full text of George Clooney’s letter

November 6, 2001

Mr. O’Reilly,

On the evening of October 31st you ran a story that has no basis in truth. What is not important is your attack of the performers who gave their time to raise money during the telethon for the September 11th fund. What is important is your accusation that the fund is being mishandled and misused. That sir, as you know, is nothing short of a lie.

The fund is intact and has already handed out some 36 million dollars to victims’ families (fifteen thousand checks), with over $230 million more to be allocated as The United Way sorts through the complicated process of who is in the most need. To have given out all of the money only six weeks after it was raised, would truly be irresponsible. If you were a journalist you would have known that.

If you were doing your job you would have also known that the person put in place to run the September 11 Fund is a man named Frank Thomas. Now that’s not the baseball player Bill, but rather the man who headed the Ford Foundation for several years. The Ford Foundation, Mr. O’ Reilly, is one of the greatest charitable organizations in the world….. (Not a car dealership…. but I’m sure you knew that). Mr. Thomas is a man respected worldwide and I would enjoy watching you question his character publicly.

…..No Mr. O’Reilly, even you wouldn’t do that.

So, let’s re-cap.

The fund is not only the most successful single fundraiser ever (over 260 million dollars); it is also doing exactly what it is designed to do. Responsibly. The money is going out to the right people and to make certain of this, the United Way is taking some time.

It took one phone call to find this information. One phone call you did not make. But hey, it’s the first week of sweeps and you need to run a hard-hitting expose’ of irresponsible, pampered performers and try to bait them on your show with inflammatory statements. I’m sure it must have been frustrating for you that not one person took the bait. Hell Bill, even McCarthy got a few people to show up.

Here’s the problem, and why I’m forced to respond: People are coming up to me and asking if it’s true the telethon was a fraud. That means the next time we try to raise money, like when the CD from the telethon comes out this month, fewer people will participate. Because of your unsubstantiated, untrue statements about the September 11 Fund, You, Mr. O’Reilly will be taking money away that from people who need it….and all because it’s the first week of sweeps.

I will say this; you were right about one thing. You accused all of the performers of lying. You named them one by one and read each of their excuses for not responding to you.

Tom Cruise, “Too busy”.
Brad Pitt, “Too busy to respond”.
Tom Hanks… get the idea.

You’re right, Mr. O’Reilly, we lied…all of us. Of course we weren’t too busy. And if you were Peter Jennings, or Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, Charlie Rose, The Washington Post, New York Times, LA Times, or pretty much anybody else, we would have dropped everything and explained what we know. You see Bill, these are journalists. So, yes we lied when we said we were too busy to do your “entertainment show”. We were just trying to not hurt your feelings.

I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the February sweeps.

Your biggest fan,


-- Cherri (, November 09, 2001.

It's been nearly two months since the attack, these assorted charities have hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars that was given to help the families of the tragedy.

And the Red Cross has told Congress that as much as 80 percent of the money it has received through 9-11 fundraisers will not go to the families. Instead, it will be used by the Red Cross for other projects.

And against that kind of backdrop, I applaud Bill O'Reilly for asking hard questions about who has the money and where it is going. Somebody needs to.

-- Uncle Deedah (, November 09, 2001.

George is a good actor.

-- Carlos (, November 09, 2001.

"I applaud Bill O'Reilly for asking hard questions about who has the money and where it is going."

Yeah, cool, but he's asking the WRONG people. The money has already been turned over to the United Way, and he KNOWS that. So why isn't he asking them? Why is he bothering the celebrities, who never even had possession of the money? Because no one is interested in the management at the United Way or Red Cross, they are boring unknown people. He's trying to stir up controversy targeted at high-profile personalities because that is how he will get the most publicity, just like another gold-digging Paula Jones. Just watch, his new book will be a bestseller. Once the rightwingers hear that he is attacking the Hollywood crowd he'll become another one of their heroes and they'll buy his book up like crazy.

-- (O'Reilly@gold-digging.scumbag), November 09, 2001.

The United Way is thinking about running television public-service announcements to tell the families where they can get information and help. They've been thinking about that for more than a month. It hasn't happened yet. In light of all these facts, I asked the telethon celebrities to issue a statement on the chaotic charity situation. None of them would.

Ahhhh I see, it's OK that these big name people use their celebrity to raise HUGE amounts of money, but it's a horrible thing to ask them to comment on how the money they ASKED people to donate is being handled. And if they refuse to comment on it, it's a terrible thing to actually say that they wouldn't comment!

-- Uncle Deedah (, November 09, 2001.

Hey Unk, the last time you bought some Girl Scout cookies that girl went home and gave the money to her mother to add it up. Well, it seems she came up short.

We are holding YOU responsible, so you better tell us what happened to that money. We're not going to ask the girl or her mother, we're asking YOU. You better tell us why she came up short or we're going to spread it all over the news that you must have ripped her off.

That's how fucked up O'Reilly's logic is.

-- (O'Reilly@majorleague.asshole), November 09, 2001.


More like it would be to ask the Girl Scout. O'Reilly isn't asking the folks who GAVE the money.

Let's try this. Jerry Lewis has his M.D. Telethon every year. Now, if a reporter thought the money that Jerry raised was being mishandled, would he be wrong to ask Jerry to comment about it?

-- Uncle Deedah (, November 10, 2001.

I think you're getting on the right track with the Jerry Lewis comment, Unk. Jerry ran his telethons and Frank Ford ran this one. Frank is the one to ask, not the folks who responded to Frank's requests to speak, sing, etc. for the cause.

I've never watched O'Reilly's show, but I've read some of the transcripts. His entire purpose seems to be to excoriate his guests. I wouldn't have accepted an invitation, either. The subject wouldn't matter, as he barely lets a guest get in two words edgewise.

I think the entertainers contributed to the Telethon in good faith, just like folks contributed to the Red Cross in good faith. There are even those kids who Bush asked to send money for the Afghan Relief Fund who contributed in good faith. Good faith lasts until the truth comes out regarding what these charities do/did with the money. The United Way is being looked at right now for taking money from the 911 fund and giving it to a legal agency [supposedly to help out victims of 911 that couldn't afford legal counsel] who is using at least SOME of that money to support the defense of eight INS detainees suspected of having been involved in the bombings.

-- Anita (, November 10, 2001.

Ooops...Frank Thomas, NOT Frank Ford.

-- Anita (, November 10, 2001.

And the Red Cross has told Congress that as much as 80 percent of the money it has received through 9-11 fundraisers will not go to the families. Instead, it will be used by the Red Cross for other projects.

Unk, I don't know where you hear about these things, but a LOT of what is reported is not fact, it is someone's spin on what they think happens. I watched the hearings last night where the Senate was investigating the charities.

The "victoms" were given approx $27,000.00 within two weeks, on their word only, by the Red Cross. Not to mention that the Red Cross was there within hours supporting the emergency workers, finding places for people around the trade center to live and hundreds of other things. The Red Cross put every penny of money that was donated to them for the victoms of 911 into a seperate account for the use of helping the victoms emmediatlly and for the long run (other problems in the future the victoms would come up against). But do you read that? I watched the hearings, not watched some right wing extremest show that is known for bashing anything they consider not in the interest of the "right".

The victoms who testified made me al little ill, they complained about having to fill out paperwork, about having to provide documentation to show they were actually who they said they were. The Red Cross got bashed because they would not give out private information on the victoms needs and personal information and the amounts that were given to the victoms. In other words, they were respecting the privacy of the victoms and would not release information without the written consent of them. maybe the "media" didn't like this, but these people have enough pain in their life without having every detail of their grief exploited by the media.

Another point that was brought out was that the different charities were being co-ordinated in a way which was developed in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, where the victoms families were still being helped as needed years later whenever they needed it. I'm sorry to say that at the hearings it sounded like the two woemn who testified thought they were going to be supported in the comfort in which they were accustomed, being able to have the same income and benifits they had been getting from their husbands working at Barney Smith. One woman complained that the $30,000.00 limit for three months was not enough to live on, renewable every three months. In other words, with 27 to 30K every three months was not adaquate to live on.

I wonder if these women realize that if their husbands had died in a car accident on sept-11 they would have to wait until the insurance kicked in to get any help at all. They kept complaining about "the long term", what would happen to them. Well geeze, maybe they could do as every other widow does in this country and maybe get a job. Another point that was brought out was the fact that the Congress had set up a fund to support these women and their children FOR LIFE and not one had bothered to apply. Basically I think the impression was given that the victom's families would end up millionairs because of the tragedy. What was saddest was the ones who were financially better off were the ones who were whining, the janitors spouses were managing to quietly fill out the paperwork at all of the agencies without complaining that they were forced "to beg" for support. The one woman brought 37 bills that were paid by the Red Cross without question, given $27,000.00 and complained about only getting two $127.00 vouchers for food at a store near her home.

Don't expect the media to write about anything but what they consider (or make up as) "exposes and corruption", for they consider that as what sells.

What made me ill was the way the red Cross was being "villified", when they have been the ones who are ALWAYS there whenever ANYONE needs them, be it a flood or a house fire. It is always the red Cross who finds people a place to stay (usually a hotel origionally) within hours of a problem, and continue to help people pay their bills and get on their feet long after any situation has been forgotten by the media. Or was even known by the media.

They are helping the families of the troops, especially the reserves who have had their lives unexpectedly disrupted by this war and have helped people we don't even hear about, those who lived or worked next to ground zero, many collateral victoms of 9-11 who we will never be know.

Like I yelled at those women as they complained, "welcome to the real world".

-- Cherri (, November 10, 2001.

victim(s).... I knew it looked wrong each time I wrote it.

-- Cherri (, November 10, 2001.

I'll disagree with you on the Red Cross, Cherri, as well as the American Way. BOTH are in it for the money. BOTH have offered coffee, donuts, etc., FOR A PRICE. Unless you've had personal contact with these folks in an emergency situation [and I know at least one older guy around here who did], you're quoting their propaganda.

I would, however, agree with you that some of the victims in NY expect compensation compatible with previous earnings of spouses. Yeah, well.

-- Anita (, November 10, 2001.

Cherri, the Red Cross got involved in the case of a dying child in my family decades ago. Many people stopped my relatives in the street and asked if they had received specific donations. Not one directed donation came through. All the family asked for were extra sheets, as the particular illness of the child made them necesarry every hour and they didn't have a washing machine in the home. They did not ask for a washing machine, only extra sheets. The Red Cross made an official plea for sheets on behalf of the dying child, by name. The family was identified and the story made public in the newspapers.

The Red Cross gave them a box of unwashed rags, and nothing else. Many people in the community said that they had donated new, whole, clean sheets. The Red Cross representative told the family that they "didn't need" real sheets, they needed only "something to put under the child". The Red Cross decided to keep the donated sheets for "other projects". This fact was not made public until now. But don't ask anyone in our family for one thin dime for the Red Cross. We donate to church relief funds, food banks, and we volunteer labor when needed.

The Red Cross used my family publically to get things for themselves. Period.

-- helen (, November 10, 2001.

Charities... PAH!

Chasin' the idiot with the red cross on his hat... (SNAP!)

The Dog

-- The Dog (, November 10, 2001.

A LOT of blood is now being thrown out.

Red Cross didn't have facilities to freeze blood

-- Anita (, November 11, 2001.

I have one memory of the Red Cross from my early [very early] childhood. There was a very poor family in town. A single mother when that wasn't so usual. This was during the Korean War.

The womans son was on the front lines. She was diagnosed with a potentially fatal ailment and needed an immediate operation. People came up with the money for the operation. The Red Cross contacted the son and told him that they would fly him home for the emergency. They did that. His mother survived.

When he got back to Korea, his first letter was from the Red Cross. It was a bill for the total transportation cost.

That, in my childhood memory, is the Red Cross.

Best Wishes,,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (, November 11, 2001.


I never did understand why they kept collecting blood many days after the attack. By that time they could see that it wasn't going to be needed in NY, yet they kept collecting. Reports on the news are now saying that the head of the Red Cross had told Dubya that they did not have the ability to store it, and Dubya told them, "Keep collecting... get my drift?" Apparently, in a direct contradiction from what he was telling the public, he assumed that tens of thousands of more people were going to be killed in more attacks. A very pessimistic view, coming from the most "powerful" man in the world! LOL

-- (Dubya@chicken.little), November 11, 2001.

This morning on NPR they reported that the Red Cross threw away a lot of the blood. Mentioned was that the Red Cross had SOLD some of it to hospitals. If they were going to throw it out, why sell it?

-- helen (double@Red.Cross), November 11, 2001.

It can be frozen if you have the equipment. A better question is.. if they can sell it, why throw it out?

-- (should have sold @ all. of it), November 11, 2001.

I stand corrected. Sad to find an institution I believed was above question is so corrupted :o(

I understand blood in one form can be stored for up to 10 years, but so much was given that there were no facilities left for storage. I hope people did not think the blood they were giving would go to the victims of 9-11, but the need is always there all over and others were helped by the donations. I used to be called once a month (while in the USAF) to donate because I have RH-negitive blood. Can't do it anymore, might need some myself soon, so I am glad so many people chose to give. I wish SOMEONE would have stepped up to the front and explained to people that too much blood was being given and asked them to wait until there was a need for it again. People wanted to do something to help, and did what they knew. I wish someone had taken charge and asked for other ideas, or suggested other ways.

-- Cherri (, November 11, 2001.

Red Cross Collected Unneeded Blood
Resources Lacking To Freeze Surplus

By Gilbert M. Gaul and Mary Pat Flaherty
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, November 11, 2001; Page A01

The American Red Cross collected hundreds of thousands of blood donations after Sept. 11 knowing that the blood could not be used for victims of the terrorist attacks.

After selling some of the surplus blood to hospitals, the Red Cross has begun to destroy thousands of pints that have outlasted their shelf life. Directors of several Red Cross blood centers said their sites may discard as many as 1 of every 5 donations and the national total could easily reach tens of thousands.

The charitable outpouring offered an opportunity for the $2.5 billion-a-year organization to restock its depleted blood inventory. Although the Red Cross told the public that surplus blood would be frozen, it did not have the resources to freeze large amounts of excess blood, according to documents and interviews.

The Red Cross, which is the nation's largest blood supplier, declined to answer questions about how much extra blood was collected. Spokesmen said the Red Cross kept collecting blood because it did not want to turn away donors and hoped to create a reserve in case of more terrorist attacks. They noted that every blood donation yields some lifesaving byproduct, such as plasma.

The nonprofit Red Cross collects more than 6 million pints of blood annually and earns about $1.5 billion, or 60 percent of its revenue, by selling donated red cells, platelets and plasma to hospitals for more than $225 a unit.

The Red Cross estimated that less than 10 percent of the donations will be discarded, but some of its blood-bank directors disputed that. They said the Red Cross collected at least 250,000 and perhaps as much as 400,000 extra pints in the month after the attack.

The events surrounding Sept. 11 illustrate the tensions that exist over the management and control of the nation's fragile blood supply. It is a business much like a public utility, managed by a mix of nonprofit and for-profit companies that compete for donors and market share. Their dealings seldom attract public attention.

The Red Cross decisions in the days after Sept. 11 created a standoff with other blood groups, which opposed collecting unneeded supplies of a perishable product. Federal officials tried to negotiate a unified policy, but the Red Cross balked at a plan to encourage donors to delay their donations.

"It's inexcusable," said Arthur Caplan, a University of Pennsylvania ethicist and until recently chairman of the Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability for the Health and Human Services Department. "It could be very damaging and cost them an enormous amount of goodwill."

Two months after the attacks, the Red Cross is mired in criticism stemming from its handling of the crisis. President Bernadine Healy has been forced to resign, effective the end of the year, partly because of her decisions on how to use money contributed to help the victims of the terrorist attacks.

Part of the money is being used in an attempt to create a 100,000-unit reserve of frozen blood, a program that will cost $50 million -- or 10 percent -- of the gifts Americans donated for victims of the attacks.

"As the organization supplying most of the nation's blood we believe we have an obligation to ensure enough is on hand and ready," Red Cross spokeswoman Blythe Kubina said.

Last week, Healy told Congress that the frozen reserve would be stockpiled in part for "military" use. That came as a surprise to officials operating the Armed Forces blood program, which has its own frozen reserve of 60,000 units stored in Asia and Europe. On Thursday,Kubina acknowledged that the military had not asked it to freeze blood.

42-Day Shelf Life

Soon after the Sept. 11 attacks, the country was awash in blood. Americans donated in record numbers. Nationally, blood inventories swelled from an average of three days' supply to 10 days' worth.

Charles Rouault, a physician and president of the Blood Centers of South Florida in Fort Lauderdale, was among them. By the time a second hijacked plane hit the World Trade Center, he was on his way to the donor room.

"I knew we would be overwhelmed quickly, so I wanted to get it out of the way," Rouault said. "By 5 p.m. that night it was standing room only. The wait was at least six hours. We started telling everyone: 'You're really not going to be doing anyone any good by donating today. Write your name down. Leave a business card. We will contact you again.' "

To much of the blood industry, it quickly was clear that there would be no huge demand for blood: Most of the victims were dead. Yet there were disagreements about how to handle the surge in donations. Some urged caution, but the Red Cross continued to seek donations.

In San Diego, the Red Cross urged donors to give blood at the "request of the White House," according to a press release. Two weeks after the attacks, the Red Cross in South Carolina, was still telling donors that their blood "will go to victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington."

"The most disturbing thing was that Red Cross refused to hold back," said the head of one large Red Cross center, who requested anonymity. "We were ordered by national [headquarters] to keep collecting. Now, at my center, we're looking at a major loss of product."

In the Washington area, home to the Red Cross and the nation's two other major blood organizations, the debate shifted from whether there would be enough blood to whether there would soon be too much. Blood has a 42-day shelf life. Having too much blood can be as challenging as having too little.

America's Blood Centers, which runs 450 centers and handles about half of the nation's blood supply, informed the Red Cross that it would tell donors that blood wasn't needed immediately and to schedule future appointments. Within a day after the attacks, "we were already getting messages from our centers to turn the spigot off," said Executive Director Jim MacPherson.

Federal officials, concerned that the public was getting mixed messages, called the blood organizations to a Sept. 14 meeting at the Health and Human Services Department to draft a statement to guide donors. They left thinking a consensus had been reached that would promote donations, but ask donors to stagger their blood giving over coming months.

But the Red Cross later balked, said Stephen D. Nightingale, executive director of Health and Human Services's blood safety and availability committee. The Red Cross's Kubina said that after the meeting, its officials decided "we were not comfortable saying we do not need donations any more."

Nightingale said it was not the responsibility of the Health and Human Services Department to tell the Red Cross what to do. "Obviously we felt if there was a consensus it would be easier for everyone involved," Nightingale said. "But we don't tell the blood banks how to operate."

Blood centers usually have no problem using surplus blood. Centers that have too much sell it to centers that have too little. In some cases, blood organizations sell as much as half the blood they collect.

After Sept. 11, that changed. With nearly all of the nation's blood centers flush with blood, the ability to sell surplus disappeared, increasing the odds that blood would go unused and have to be destroyed, authorities said.

Prices of valuable type O-negative, the universal donor type that can be transfused in any patient, fell from nearly $100 a pint to as low as $20 a pint, according to several center directors.

Ronald O. Gilcher's Oklahoma Blood Institute, a longtime blood exporter, asked individuals to slow down the donations. "We knew we wouldn't be able to export large amounts, so we scaled back," said Gilcher, a physician.

At the Community Blood Centers of South Florida, of which Rouault is president, he also pulled back requests for donations. "The blood was building up like a tidal wave on the shelves and we knew we couldn't ship them out," Rouault said.

The Red Cross, meanwhile, continued to run advertisements soliciting blood donations, Rouault said.

Frozen Surplus

When the Red Cross encountered questions after the Sept. 11 attacks about how it would use surplus blood, officials had a ready answer: It would would be frozen. The plan was to create a reserve of up to 100,000 type O units, which Healy has said would be "one of our finest investments towards national preparedness in the wake of 9-11."

The facts were more complicated: While the Red Cross had the ability to freeze some quantities, it was not equipped to quickly process the huge outpouring. The Food and Drug Administration did not accept the Red Cross's plan for a major freezing program until Oct. 1, a document shows.

Experts say it takes time, manpower and equipment to gear up for a major freezing program. "You just don't decide to freeze 100,000 units of blood," said Celso Bianco, a physician and executive vice president of America's Blood Centers. "You need to have a good plan and time and money. It's very labor-intensive."

Gilcher, in Oklahoma City, said the Red Cross was "irresponsible in the message that was 'given' to the American people by saying 'donate blood and money' and implying that the American Red Cross would freeze that blood."

The Red Cross declined to disclose how much of the extra hundreds of thousands of pints collected since Sept. 11 were frozen. An inventory that one Red Cross director saw showed that about 8,000 units of blood had been frozen between Sept. 11 and mid-October, which suggests that large-scale freezing had not happened by that time.

Kubina disputed that account, saying "8,000 is wrong," but would not offer specifics. She said "some blood" collected just after Sept. 11 has been frozen, but acknowledged that most of the proposed reserve would come from donations being made now and later.

The Red Cross approached the FDA on Sept. 14 for approval of procedures for freezing and thawing a large reserve, which it proposed keeping at six sites. State-of-the-art technology enables frozen blood to be used for up to 14 days after thawing. The thawing method the Red Cross cleared with the FDA on Oct. 1 requires thawed blood to be used within 24 hours, which poses a greater challenge in moving blood from scattered stockpiles to a disaster spot.

The feasibility of a strategic blood reserve had been discussed inside the Red Cross for a year, Kubina said, and it was thought that special fundraising would have to be conducted for the project.

The events of Sept. 11 "accelerated" the plan, Kubina said. It made the need more apparent, she said. But also, with the surge in money that came into the Red Cross after the attacks, it was able to designate $50 million to fund the blood-reserve program out of the gifts sent to the Liberty Fund, the account intended to help disaster victims.

That use came under fire last week when Healy appeared before Congress to explain how the Red Cross was managing the victims fund. "I don't believe anyone who wrote a check to Sept. 11 expected it to be used for frozen blood," Rep. Peter Deutsch (D-Fla.) told her.

Fresh blood donated Sept. 11 reached the end of its shelf life Oct. 23. Blood donated Sept. 30 will hit its expiration date today. When blood becomes outdated, it is useless and must be burned. "At my center," a Red Cross director said, "we have all of this surplus blood that is only now starting to outdate. We don't have the supplies to freeze it. There's no place to ship it. What do they think is going to happen? We can't create a need for it that isn't there."

© 2001 The Washington Post Company

-- Cherri (, November 12, 2001.

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