Type O negative is the universal blood type and can be safely given to any patient, regardless of blood type. It is used extensively by hospitals, particularly in life-threatening emergencies or when a patient's matching blood type is not readily available.
"Because type O negative blood is in such high demand, we depend on regular donors to meet the needs of patients in local hospitals," says Randy Edwards, chief executive officer of the American Red Cross Southern Blood Services Region. "Type O negative blood is greatly needed today, but there is a constant need for all blood types. If you're not a regular blood donor, we encourage you to make a point to donate often. Every donation truly makes a difference in someone's life."
Donors may be able to give double red cells at many Red Cross blood drives and donor centers. The process separates the donor's blood into its components as it is being drawn, and the plasma is returned to the donor during the donation process. Since red blood cells are typically the component that is most needed when supplies of types O negative, O positive, B negative and A negative fall below ideal levels, double red cell donation allows donors to give what patients need most.
The American Red Cross urges everyone to donate blood as soon as possible, regardless of blood type. While 37 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate, fewer than 8 percent of those eligible actually give blood. The Southern Region needs 1,200 blood donations each weekday to adequately supply more than 130 hospitals throughout the region. However, this goal is seldom met, and blood is routinely brought in from other states to meet the needs of local hospital patients. There are 14 blood donor centers throughout the Southern Region, and blood drives are held daily at various times and locations.
Potential donors are asked to visit www.givebloodredcross.org or call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE to find the nearest blood drive or donor center. Most people in good health who are age 17 or older and weigh at least 110 pounds can give blood.