The depressing economic situation has "drastically increased" the amount of medical equipment - especially wheelchairs - people seek to borrow from Yad Sarah branches around the country, according to the volunteer organization. Requests have reached 300 percent of the usual pre-Pessah orders, but at the same time donations to Yad Sarah's medical equipment loan program have decreased. Another 4,000 wheelchairs and walkers, 600 oxygen balloons, 250 oxygen-production machines and 150 hospital beds, as well as many other devices have been ordered by Yad Sarah nevertheless, with the aim of lending them out before Pessah. They are needed especially now, as elderly people in geriatric institutions need them to spend the holiday with their families. Volunteer technicians have repaired more than 1,500 medical devices in the last two weeks, and there is also more demand for Nechonit vans, which can transport the wheelchair-bound between family homes and institutions. Eleven Yad Sarah branches based in hospitals will be open on Wednesday before the holiday, along with central, out-of-hospital branches in more than a dozen cities and towns. Information is available by calling *6444 or the Web site at www.yadsarah.org.il.