Area News | Home | Marketplace | Community

Return to Archived Stories

Paynesville Press - November 21, 2001

Type-O donors wanted for blood drive

By Michael Jacobson

Though donors of all blood types are constantly needed to maintain the nation's blood supply, Type-O or "universal" donors are always in particularly high demand.

Type-O blood is called the universal donor because it is frequently transfused to patients with other blood types, particularly in trauma situations when a number of units are needed quickly, before the patient's blood type can be checked.

In the North Central region - which includes Minnesota, western Wisconsin, northern Iowa, and eastern South Dakota - the American Red Cross estimates that 41 percent of blood donors have Type-O blood. Nearly 45 percent of the blood collected by the Red Cross needs to be Type-O to adequately meet the needs of hospitals.

A special blood drive will be held in Paynesville next week targeting donors with Type-O blood and first-time donors. The blood drive will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 28, from 1:30-7:15 p.m. at Paynesville Lutheran Church.

The Red Cross typically holds blood drives for the general public in Paynesville in the late winter (early March) and in the summer (July or August).

Because supplies for Type-O blood can barely keep up with demand, it is important that people with that type consider giving blood every 56 days or whenever the bloodmobile comes to the community, said Dr. Robert Bowman, the executive director of the North Central Blood Services. "Since Type-O blood is so frequently used during emergency surgeries, the blood you donate today may help to save a life tomorrow," added Dr. Bowman.

The ABO system is the most important blood classification. This system notes the presence of A or B antigens. If blood cells have the A antigen, the blood is Type-A. If blood cells have the B antigen, the blood is Type-B. If it has both, it is Type-AB.

Type-O blood indicates the absence of both antigens, which means it can be safely used by people with Type-O, Type-A, Type-B, and Type-AB blood.

Appointments for next week's drive are encouraged for Type-O donors and first-time donors, said Renee Wirkkula, who is coordinating the drive for the Paynesville Area Health Care System. She can be reached at 320-243-4399.

According to the Red Cross, approximately 90 percent of the population will need a blood transfusion in their lifetimes, but only five percent of eligible Americans donate each year.

About 14 million units of blood are donated in the United States each year by eight million donors. This blood is used by four million patients, or one every 12 seconds.

New requirements
Blood donors must be 17 years of age, weigh at least 110 pounds, and be in good health to be eligible to donate blood. There is no upper age limit.

In response to "mad cow" disease, the Red Cross has added new restrictions, effective Oct. 15, 2001. Because no test exists to check blood for the variant of the Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease known as "mad cow" disease, the Red Cross is extending its restrictions until a test is available.

The new restrictions are:
•Anyone who has lived or visited the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, The Channel Islands, Gibraltar, and the Falkland Islands) for a cumulative total of three months since 1980.
•Anyone who has lived or visited any European country or combination of countries for a cumulative total of six months since 1980.
•Anyone who has received a blood transfusion in the United Kingdom since 1980.
Other health restrictions can be learned by calling the Red Cross at 1-800-426-2164.

Contact the author at   •   Return to News Menu

Home | Marketplace | Community