PINELLAS COUNTY - Florida Blood Services is joining with the nation's leading blood donation organizations to increase awareness of the importance of donating blood during National Blood Donor Month.
FBS, a nonprofit organization headquartered in St. Petersburg, is the third-largest blood transfusion service in the United States, according to information on its Web site, www.fbsblood.org.
Thanks to volunteer donors, FBS provides more than 750 units of blood to patients in 36 Tampa Bay area hospitals and 90 ambulatory care centers every day.
"We need every type of blood every day," said Elaine Ackel, FBS director of media services.
However, currently, she said, there is a critical need for O-Positive, O-Negative and B-Negative blood types. In addition, the supply of A negative is low.
"The blood supply is a critical component of our health system, and it has to be constantly available in order to respond to the daily requirements of our health care providers that care for patients in need." Don Doddridge, CEO of FBS said in a press release.
Doddridge said that the first quarter of the year is always the highest usage for blood products. Patient care and services increase with the influx of winter residents, he said.
Donating blood is a safe, simple process that takes less than one hour, Ackel said. Generally healthy people 17 years of age or older, who weigh at least 110 pounds are eligible to donate.
FBS has 13 donor centers in Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco and Pinellas Counties.
Locations of FBS donation centers around Pinellas are as follows:
St. Petersburg Donor Center, 10100 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N. Hours: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Thursday; 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday; and 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday. Call 568-5433 ext. 2112
Clearwater Donor Center, 1680 - 1682 South Missouri Ave. Hours: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Thursday; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday; 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday; and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday. Call 568-5433 or 582-9500
Largo Donor Center, 11401 Belcher Road, Ste E Hours: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Thursday. Call 544-5050 ext. 2583
Tyrone Donor Center, 1700 66th St North, Suite 102 Hours: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Thursday; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday; and 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday. Call 384-4145
Call 1-800-68-Blood or visit www.fbsblood.org for blood center locations in other counties, blood mobile schedules and blood donor requirements.
During Blood Donor Month, organizers are promoting the message that just one pint of blood can help save up to three lives.
"Every day in our country, approximately 38,000 units of blood are required in hospitals and emergency treatment facilities for patients with cancer and other diseases, for organ transplant recipients, and to help save the lives of accident victims," according to information at www.aabb.org. "Our goal is to help ensure that blood is available to patients whenever and wherever it is needed because it is the blood on the shelves that helps saves lives."
AABB is an international association of blood banks, including hospital and community blood centers, transfusion and transplantation services, and individuals involved in activities related to transfusion and transplantation medicine.
There are eight different blood types. According to information provided by FBS, 37.4 percent of the U.S. population has O Rh-positive blood; 6.6 percent has O Rh-negative; 35.7 percent has A Rh-positive; 6.3 percent has A Rh-negative; 8.5 percent has B Rh-positive; 1.5 percent has B Rh-negative; 3.4 percent AB Rh-positive; and 0.6 percent AB Rh-negative. Distribution varies according to different racial and ethnic groups.
According to information on the FBS Web site, people who have type O negative are "uncommonly important donors.
"Because of the highest compatibility of your blood, it is best suited to test and use for the rare donor blood repository that supports many patients with special blood needs in our community and other areas of our country."
O negative blood can be used for transfusions for people with all blood types.
People with O positive blood also are important donors, because type O blood can be used to help people with other positive blood types. In addition, only a type O donor can help type O patients. The FBS needs 230 units of type O donations every day to meet the needs of the communities it serves.
However, the FBS stresses that donations of all blood types are vital and equally important.
"The rarest blood type is the one not available when it is needed," according to the FBS Web site.
People can donate as often as five times a year - every 56 days. The FBS said regular blood donors are important to maintain the blood supply. Blood and blood products are perishable. Donated red blood cells must be used within 42 days of collection.
For more information on donating blood, hosting a blood drive or volunteering to help, call 1-800-68-Blood or visit www.fbsblood.org.
"For all the miracles of modern medicine, there is still no substitute for this gift of life," according to the FBS. "Our neighbors count on FBS for more than 650 pints a day, and we're counting on you."