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Red Cross in need of type O blood donors

LAWRENCEVILLE - The American Red Cross said it is in need of blood donors with type O blood.

Inventory levels of type O negative blood are at just more than a day's supply despite repeated calls to donors to give blood over the last two months, Red Cross spokeswoman April Phillip said.

Type O is the most common blood type and is also the type most needed by hospital patients. Donors with type O negative blood are considered "universal donors," because their blood can be safely transfused to any patient, regardless of blood type. It is used extensively by hospitals, particularly to treat newborns and in life-threatening emergencies before a patient's blood type is determined.

Type O blood is found most frequently in minority populations, specifically among black and Latino communities. It is estimated that nearly half of all minority blood donors have type O blood. However, minority blood donors account for less than 20 percent of all blood donations in the Southern Region.

"It's not often that you get an opportunity to help save a life," said Randy Edwards, chief executive officer of the American Red Cross Southern Blood Services Region. "By giving blood, that's exactly what you're doing. It takes only about an hour of your time to help save as many as three lives. But, for the patients who depend on your life-saving blood donation for survival, you may be giving them a lifetime."

Red Cross officials said that there is a constant need for all blood types. While 38 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 in order 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. Most people in good health who are age 17 or older and weigh at least 110 pounds can give blood.

There are 14 blood donors centers throughout the Southern Region, and blood drives are held daily at various times and locations. Potential donors are asked to visit www.redcrossblood.org or call 800-GIVE-LIFE to find the nearest blood drive or donor center.