Although we all have it in one type or another, you never know when you’re going to need someone else’s.
That time could be now for you, someone you know or someone you may never meet because there is currently an urgent need for O negative blood, said Patricia Willms, spokesperson for Canadian Blood Services.
“It’s the only type that can be used in critical situations where there’s no time to identify the patient’s blood type. Any hospital patient in that situation can receive O negative blood. It’s the only blood type that’s universal. That’s why we often hear about the need for O negative blood.”
Canadian Blood Services sets the optimum amount required on hand at five to eight days, but there is currently less than four days worth available, Willms said. Many people don’t realize that it takes up to eight donors a week for a single leukemia patient, up to 50 donors for someone involved in a car crash, and up to five donors to save someone undergoing heart surgery, Willms explained. Given its short shelf life, the need for blood is constant, she added.
The good news is that making an appointment to donate has never been easier, Willms noted. Those interested in can download the Give Blood app, call 1-888-2Donate (I-888-236-6238) or visit blood.ca.
You don’t have to know what your blood type is to be a donor. Donors receive a card, much like a driver’s licence, once lab work is completed.
The four blood types, A, B, O and AB, all have a positive and negative designation, with AB negative being the rarest type among Canadians.
Canadian Blood Services celebrated its 20th anniversary on Sept. 28, 2018. The non-profit organization is committed to safeguarding Canada’s national system for blood, plasma, stem cells, organs and tissues by connecting donors, volunteers, health professionals, researchers and patients in a national network to save lives.
“One of the most direct ways you can help someone is by giving blood. Every minute of every day someone in Canada needs blood,” Willms said.
For more information, visit blood.ca.
People who don’t want to donate blood but wish to identify their blood type should consult their doctor.