Blood is like a parachute — if it isn’t there when you need it, the chances of you ever needing it again are exceedingly small. And right now, the Kansas City area needs blood. The Community Blood Center serves seventy hospitals in Kansas City and the surrounding area, and our supplies are running low.
Snow storms tend to double-whammy blood supplies. On the one hand you have cancelled mobile blood drives because of road conditions and safety, and because turnout is likely to be too low in inclimate weather to make taking out the bloodmobiles a worthwhile venture. On the other hand, you have an uptick in accidents that bring patients into contact with first responders and emergency department staff. This has the dual effect of using up supplies at a time when they are not being replenished — and blood products, made from living cells, have a shelf-life, so it isn’t like we can stockpile them for times such as these.
If you are type O, we really covet your cells.
And that brings me to a “teaching moment” where I will take a moment to clear up a couple of myths. When you hear people say “they really need my blood. I am (fill in any non-O bloodtype, positive or negative, here)” you are hearing a statement that has no basis in fact because that simply isn’t how math works, and if you extend your thinking out a bit it becomes clear — if most of the people in a population group are type O, then most of those who will need transfusions will be type O — there is nothing in the A, B, and AB blood groups that makes people with those bloodtypes any more accident prone than people with type O.
People with type O blood are called universal donors for a reason — we can give their blood to anyone — we can even give O+ to a person with a negative Rh factor if the person needing blood is not a woman of childbearing age.
But the minutae isn’t what is important — what is important is this — the rarest bloodtype in the world is the one that isn’t there when you need it. So donate. The life you save could turn out to be someone you love. It will definitely be someone that somebody loves.