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Florida Blood Center in need of O negative blood donations

By Staff | Mar 16, 2011

Although the Lee Memorial Blood Center currently has sufficient levels of O negative blood type, the Florida Blood Center is seeking donations to replenish its need.
Pat Michaels, Florida’s Blood Centers executive director of public relations, said the organization operates on a regional basis. The blood that is donated at the center’s Fort Myers and Cape Coral locations is provided to the Lehigh Regional Medical Center.
The blood “stays in the location in where it is donated,” Michaels said due to the short shelf life of the blood that is donated. “Our primary goal is to keep it locally.”
Michaels explained that since negative blood types involve only 7 percent of the population, there is always a demand for that particular blood type. Since O negative is mainly used for traumas and emergencies, he said “hospitals are very careful to make sure they have that supply.”
“O negative is the first line of defense,” Michaels said. “When we are low, we are low on almost all types.”
Nancy Hendrick, Community Relations Director for Lee Memorial Health System, said right now its level of O negative blood type is sufficient.
Although LMHS is not running low right now, she explained that the need for O negative blood is always there because it is the first one to go when a patient needs additional blood.
“Their blood type can go to anyone,” Hendrick said about O negative blood types. “It is a great type to have because you can give it to anyone.”
Although it is the universal donor blood, she explained that those with O negative blood can only receive the same type back.
To obtain an efficient amount of blood, Lee Memorial Blood Center has to draw at least 500 units in a six-day week. To sustain inventory levels, it has to receive 2,000 units of blood a month.
Hendrick said right now the high schools in Lee County are keeping the Lee Memorial Blood Center afloat.
“The high schools are our savior,” she said. “So many kids are willing to donate … the students are special.”
Since the beginning of the school year, Lee County high school students have donated 5,100 units of blood, which has saved approximately 10,200 lives. Hendricks said that number does not include the number of kids who came out and tried to donate their blood, but could not for one reason or another.
She said she would like to give high school students “a high five on that.”
For the next two months, Hendrick’s said LMHS will be visiting one high school a week for its blood drive. She explained that some schools hold the blood drive up to four times a year.
On Wednesday, the Lee Memorial Blood Mobile traveled to Mariner High School. She said 210 students signed up to donate their blood, with 160 students showing up on Wednesday. Out of those 160 students, Hendricks said they will draw about 130 of those for blood.
“Kudos to Mariner High School students,” Hendricks said.
Next week students at Riverdale High School will donate their blood and Ida Baker High School students will donate the following week.
The Lee Memorial Blood Center is the sole provider for the Lee Memorial Health System. When individuals donate their blood through the Lee Memorial Health System, it stays in the community to help those in need.
By having a hospital-based blood center, Lee Memorial Health System saves money because it draws its own blood donors.
Michaels said the easiest way for individuals to find out what blood type they have is to donate their blood.
Individuals must be at least 17 years old, or 16 with parental consent, and in good general health, along with weighing a minimum of 115 pounds to donate blood. Those who donate need to provide photo identification and eat a good meal and drink plenty of fluids beforehand.
Individuals should have a iron rich meal before their blood is drawn because of the 500 mills that they will be donating. An individual can donate blood every 56 days, which can amount to a total of six times a year if timed correctly.
The two Florida Blood Center locations in Lee County are in Cape Coral, 601 Del Prado Blvd. North, and Fort Myers, 6810 Shoppes Plantation Drive. Walk-ins and appointments are welcome for blood donations.