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The American Red Cross is issuing an emergency call throughout Georgia for all eligible donors who have type O positive or O negative blood to give blood immediately. The supply of type O blood has fallen to little more than a half day, and the Red Cross is currently able to fill only 30 percent of hospital requests for these crucial blood types, said Red Cross officials.

Anyone who needs a transfusion can safely receive type O negative blood, while approximately 86 percent of the population can receive type O positive blood in an emergency. It is critical that patients receive transfusions of their own blood type or one that is compatible with their blood type. Patients who receive incompatible blood can become ill or even die.

Since type O is the universal type that can be safely given to patients of any blood type, it is the blood that is used most frequently for transfusions. As type O blood is used for emergencies when there is no time to type a patient’s blood, it makes up almost half of all blood requested from the Red Cross every day by hospitals. It is also used to save the lives of premature babies.

Hospital emergency rooms and trauma centers cannot function without a supply of O blood on hand, according to Kathy Dallas, district manager, American Red Cross Blood Services.

Most people who are 17 or older and weigh at least 110 pounds, can give blood. Because blood cells regenerate, it is safe to donate every 56 days. While approximately 60 percent of the population is eligible to give blood, nationally, only 5 percent actually donate. For information or to sign up for an upcoming blood drive, call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE or visit www.givebloodredcross.org.

The American Red Cross Blood Services office is at 2517 Bemiss Road.

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