Red Cross warns of O negative blood shortage, encourages donations

Digital Originals

(WFXR) — By the time you finish this article, dozens of people across the United States will have received a blood transfusion, but the supply of blood and specifically O negative blood is in short supply.

Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood, according to the American Red Cross. Unfortunately, for the past nine months, Red Cross organizations across the globe have been warning of a critical shortage of type O negative blood. It is known as the universal blood type because even though only seven percent of the population has type O negative blood, 100 percent of the population can benefit from it.

Jackie Grant, director of the Roanoke area chapter of the American Red Cross, said Type O negative blood is always in high demand. She said when a critical patient arrives in in an ER, doctors cannot waste valuable time testing for the patient’s blood type and instead turn to type O negative. In fact, according to Red Cross website, “Currently there are just six units of type O blood available for every 100,000 people, but at least two times that amount is needed every day.”

Grant said local blood drives help meet demand.

“We have to have them going on to continue that supply,” she said.

While type O negative blood is more widely used, donors of all blood types are needed and should visit RedCrossBlood.org to find information about local blood drives or schedule an appointment with nearby Red Cross donation centers.

Grant said you can donate blood every 58 days and platelets more often.

“(Platelets) are only good for a shelf-life of three to five days and those are going to cancer patients, burn victims, the emergency victims,” Grant said, adding that she is a platelet donor.

Blood drives happening in our region include the following:

  • Roanoke Blood Donation Center at 352 Church Avenue SW is open every day.
  • Salem Blood Donation Center at 131 Electric Road is open Saturdays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.
  • Jerry Falwell Library at 1000 Regents Parkway will host a drive from 1 to 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15.
  • Harley Davidson of Lynchburg at 20452 Timberlake Road in Lynchburg will host a blood drive from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 16.
  • Daleville Town Center Apartments is hosting a blood drive from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 16.
  • Unitarian Universalist Church in Roanoke is hosting a blood drive from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 16.

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