Shepeard Community Blood Center is seeking the community’s help to ensure that an adequate blood supply is available when it’s needed.
The nonprofit blood center, founded in 1978, provides blood to more than 20 hospitals.
“We are just a conduit because, although we service supplies of blood, it’s really the loyal blood donors that are providing it. We are just the ones who are drawing the blood, processing the blood, testing it and delivering it to the hospitals for the patients in need,” said Pamela Rascon, the director of community services.
To maintain an adequate supply, 130 good units of red blood cells must be donated each day.
Donated blood has a shelf life of 42 days.
Donors may also donate plasma, which has a shelf life of a year, and platelets, which last only five days.
“One of the hardest things to do is getting people to donate platelets or plasma, because it means sitting there for an hour and a half or so for a special donation,” Rascon said. “But that helps cancer patients and burn patients.”
Currently, O-negative is the blood type most needed. Known as the universal blood, O-negative blood can be provided to patients with any blood type.
However, people don’t often realize that those who have O-negative blood can receive only O-negative blood, Rascon said, noting that only about 7 percent of the population has this type.
“It’s kind of liquid gold,” said Claire Rossie, the blood center’s public relations coordinator.
Last year, about 49,000 people tried to donate blood in the area. Blood donors can give once every eight weeks, and those donating platelets may give once every two weeks.
The blood center hopes to encourage more people to donate blood. Less than 10 percent of the population donates, and 37 percent can.
Anyone age 17 and older, or age 16 with a signed parental consent form, and weighing at least 110 pounds can be donors.
“Our donors give to patients – who they will never know – a beautiful gift,” Rascon said. “It’s the gift of hope. It’s the gift of health. It’s the gift of opportunity for a future of healthy living.
‘‘These donors give the gift of hope and life, and they will never know the patient’s name.”