Blood Bank reports critical shortage of type O blood

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SAN DIEGO -- San Diegans answered the call Saturday to help the San Diego Blood Bank with its critical shortage of type O blood.

On Saturday morning, the nonprofit blood bank sent out a plea to San Diego residents for O positive and O negative blood donations. By 4 p.m., the response through social media and news organizations was good, according to Claudine Van Gonka of the San Diego Blood Bank.

Although final numbers of donations throughout the city Saturday aren't compiled yet, Van Gonka said that people "are really responding" well to the blood bank's pleas for donations. She said they've seen lots of first-timers coming in to the six donor centers.

"We usually need 300 to 400 units a day to keep up with demand," Van Gonka said. One person can usually provide one unit, or pint, of blood, but some people who are bigger can donate up to two pints. The blood bank would need to receive about 400 units every day for the next week to meet its goal.

Van Gonka thanked the media and people on Facebook and Twitter for sharing the plea for help.

Type O positive is the most common blood type, and needed by many hospital patients, the blood bank said.

Type O negative is the universal blood type and can be given to any patient, and is often used in emergency rooms when there is no time to determine the blood type of the patient.

"Coming out of the holiday season, we typically see a decrease in donations of all types at this time due to schools being out of session for the holidays and seasonal illnesses like the flu," said David Wellis, San Diego Blood Bank CEO. "Type O blood has hit a critically low level and we need the community to help us keep a safe supply for local hospital patients."

The blood bank has six donor centers throughout San Diego County and blood mobiles out in the community.

To be eligible to donate blood, you must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 114 pounds and be in general good health. Anyone eligible to donate blood and has O negative or O positive type blood is encouraged to make an appointment online or by calling 1-800-4MY-SDBB. Walk- ins are also welcome.

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