The idea of donating blood can make some people squeamish.
But for those with Type O blood, they could help save lives and get rewarded for it.
The American Red Cross announced Tuesday that the shortage in Type O blood is so critical nationwide that the organization is offering $5 Amazon gift cards to donors as an incentive to boost supply.
Currently, there are only six units of Type O blood available for every 100,000 people, but at least two times that amount is needed every day.
“Type O-negative is the universal blood type and is what emergency room personnel reach for in the most serious situations when there is not time to determine a patient’s blood type,” said Dr. Pampee Young, chief medical officer of Red Cross Biomedical Services. “Type O-positive blood can be transfused to any positive blood type patient and is also critical in trauma situations. We are asking donors to give blood as soon as possible to ensure patient needs can be met in the days and weeks ahead.”
According to the Red Cross, only 7% of the population has Type O-negative blood. Last month, approximately 11,500 fewer Type O donations were collected due to spring break, and schools reducing the number of blood drives organized at the end of the year.
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Donors are encouraged to schedule a blood donation appointment today by using the Blood Donor App, by visiting redcrossblood.org, or calling 1-800-RED CROSS. Individuals can also open the Red Cross Blood skill on an Alexa-enabled device.
Those who donate blood through June 10 will receive an Amazon gift card via email. In addition, donors who make an appointment from May 24-28 will receive an exclusive Red Cross-branded T-shirt while supplies last.
A blood donation can take about an hour, but the actual donation itself only takes about 10 minutes.
While Type O is critically needed, the Red Cross is also seeking platelet and blood donors of all types in honor of Trauma Awareness Month.