United Blood Service in Need of Donors - KMOT.COM - Minot, ND - News, Weather, Sports

United Blood Service in Need of Donors

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Sixty percent of Americans are eligible to donate blood, but only five percent actually do. And in the summer time, that number dips even lower creating a critical need for blood donors all over the U.S. and here in North Dakota.

Rachel Shean of United Blood Services Center says blood supplies run low toward the end of the summer because people go on vacation and college campuses don't hold blood drives.

The greatest need is for donors with type O blood. O positive accounts for 30 percent of the population, and 0 negative is what's considered a universal donor. Positive and negative blood types refer to the presence or absence of a protein marker known as an RH factor.

"In situations when someone needs blood, for trauma and what not, the first blood they'll pull is O negative," says Shean.

That creates a huge demand in hospitals and a critical need in blood centers for O negative donors.

"We'll do a health assessment. We'll check your iron levels and your blood, and then if we're good to go, then we'll put you in one of our donor chairs and we'll get you hooked up," she says.

The entire donation process from a questionnaire to the blood draw takes less than an hour. And just one donation can save up to three lives.

"It's really not that different from getting blood drawn at the hospital," Shean says. "The benefit of donating blood far outweighs that temporary discomfort I think."

That benefit goes to cancer patients, emergency room visits, the elderly and newborn babies.

"It's a great cause, you can't go wrong. You're helping others, and I don't think there's any greater gift you can give someone,"  says Shean.

And you never know when you or a loved one could be in need of donated blood.


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