VERIFY: Is there a shortage of O negative blood?

We sought to verify if O negative blood has a local shortage.

First Coast News came across a post on Reddit this week that mentioned a shortage of O negative blood.

The post reads ---"I work in a hospital and there's been a shortage of O negative blood in the area recently. O negative blood is really important because it is the universal donor type-meaning it can be transfused to almost anyone without knowing the recipients' blood type beforehand making it especially useful for emergencies."

So we set out to verify that claim. First Coast News spoke with Pat Michaels who is in charge of media and public relations for OneBlood. 

OneBlood is a not-for-profit that provides safe, available and affordable blood to more than 200 hospital partners and their patients throughout most of Florida, parts of Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina. You may have seen their big red bus around Jacksonville asking for donors.

So is there a shortage of O negative?

"We're asking for people if you have O- blood or know someone who has O- blood to give. The reason why is because O- is only 7 % of the population. And it is always needed. During the summer we have less donations because colleges and High schools are out and we have to make up that amount of donations by holding special drives. So O- is going to be one blood type that is definitely needed more than any, " he said. 

Michaels said they haven't put out a social media blast about the shortage yet but they have been calling their regular O negative donors to try and get them in to give. Summertime and holidays are usually the times when blood shortages happen.

So we can verify that yes, there is a shortage of O negative blood right now. O negative is used during trauma situations when the patients' blood type is unknown. It can be transfused to patients of all blood types. Michaels is asking folks to give blood now. 

 "If you think about what happened last year in June with the Pulse massacre, it was the people who gave days before the shooting that actually saved the lives of those people who went to the trauma unit. So giving blood regularly all the time and targeting your blood type is the best way to give," he said.  

Michaels says that blood isn't the only thing needed, he introduced us to Mary Katharine. She is hooked up to a Apharisis machine that allows her to give platelets used for cancer patients. 

 "I have family and friends that have suffered from cancer, so this is my way of paying it forward," she said. 

 Not everyone can give blood. If you've traveled to certain countries or gotten a piercing or tattoo recently you might need a referral for another time. You can find a list of reasons on Oneblood's website.

If you have something you would like us to verify, send an email to verify at Firstcoastnews.com 

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