Red Cross in need of special blood

ATLANTA - The American Red Cross this week is calling on Georgia residents with type O negative, type O positive and anyone eligible to give platelets to donate right away, as a statewide shortage is depleting the supply.

Although the week is nearly over, blood and platelet donations are accepted year-round.

There is less than 12 hours' supply of type O blood - positive and negative - and 34 units of platelets available to the 130 hospitals suppled by the Red Cross, according to a press release.

Type O blood, especially negative - the universal blood type - is critical to the state's blood supply.

The ARC also says type O positive blood can be transfused to 84 percent of the national population.

Platelets, which are the clotting component in blood, are especially needed for certain medical procedures like chemotherapy and organ transplants, the release stated.

"Since Labor Day, we have struggled to maintain an adequate supply of type O blood and platelets," said Mario Sedlock, director of donor services for the ARC Southern Region. "Other states are also reporting shortages and cannot send us any of these key blood components, so Georgia must be self-sufficient right now. It is imperative that we receive increased donations of platelets and type O blood today and for the remainder of the week."

Blood donors must be 17 years or older and weight at least 110 pounds. People can safely donate blood every 56 days, and platelets can be donated approximately every two week up to 24 times per year.

For more information, call (800) 448-3543 or visit www.givebloodredcross.org.