O negative blood supply reaches critical levels

Myrtle Beach, SC - MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The American Red Cross is experiencing a nation-wide shortage of O negative blood and Myrtle Beach blood banks are actively seeking donors.

Frecia Ammons of the Red Cross Blood Services center is calling on all potential donors to come and give blood.

"We are seeing a drastic decrease in our type O negative donations," Ammons said. "So before they go any lower, we're encouraging type O donors to come on out and donate."

Ammons says shortages are common during the summer because habitual donors tend to go away on vacation and the number of accidents increases. A large number of blood drives are hosted at local high schools, so there are fewer places for blood drives to be held when they close over the summer.

The American Red Cross says someone in the United States needs blood every two seconds, and three lives are saved for every pint of blood donated.

O negative is important because it is a universal donor and can be used in the treatment of multiple illnesses including cancer, sickle cell anemia and other blood disorders.

Susan Haring lives in Myrtle Beach and donates blood every 56 days, which is the recommended period of time to wait between blood donations.

"I have had family members that have had serious blood issues, so that's why I give back, because so many other people helped my relatives," Haring said.

The South Carolina Blood Services Region of the American Red Cross says the state calls for 5,000 units of O negative blood each day.

The Myrtle Beach office of American Red Cross Blood Services collects blood donations at the local blood bank and on the road, in an effort to reach a greater number of potential donors.

Ammons says their blood mobile, a portable blood center housed in a former school bus, stops in a different location in Horry County almost every day.

Bill Asch made a stop at the blood mobile on Friday and said people should not be afraid to donate blood.

"It's not really very painful or anything," Asch said. "Needles stick, but that doesn't amount to a whole lot. They take care of you in there."

Ammons encourages everyone in the community to donate blood, even if they are not O negative.

"You never know when it can be you or a loved one who needs the blood or the blood products," Ammons said. "To be prepared is to donate on a regular basis, so donate when you can so you don't find yourself in a situation where you need blood."

All blood collected in the Palmetto State is used only by people in South Carolina.  Still, the state imports blood from the Red Cross' national supply in order to meet demands.  Eligible donors must be above the age of than 17, or accompanied by an adult, and in good physical health.

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