Blood Lust

Reeling from two increases in a year in the cost of blood supplied by the American Red Cross, local hospitals have started buying blood from out of state.

The Red Cross has more than doubled its per-unit price for blood since July 2001. Meanwhile, Massachusetts law bans independent blood banks from operating here, effectively giving the Red Cross a monopoly.

“[The Red Cross] is unable to be challenged,” says Dr. Sanford Kurtz, chief operating officer of the Lahey Clinic, where blood costs now amount to a $1.5 million-a-year expense. At New England Baptist Hospital, the cost of blood has risen 137 percent in the past two years.