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Donors just like everybody else
Center needs 0 negative blood
Licensed practical nurse Joetta Phillips writes a donor’s information on a blood bag Wednesday at the LifeSouth Community Blood Centers in Gainesville. LifeSouth is experiencing a shortage of type O negative blood. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

During the holiday season, there is so much travel, shopping and cooking to do that donating blood gets pushed off the to-do list.

With fewer people giving blood at this time of the year, LifeSouth Community Blood Centers has reached emergency low levels of type O negative blood.

Gary Kirkland, a spokesman for LifeSouth, said O negative is especially important because people with any blood type can accept it.

"You just never can have enough O negative on the shelf," Kirkland said. "In an emergency situation, O negative is the one blood type everybody can use. It's the universal blood type."

December and January are especially challenging times for organizations to collect blood.

"Our donors are just like everybody else. When they're not around they can't donate," Kirkland said. "Around the holidays we always face a challenge to find donors."

The organization contacted all of its regular blood donors with O negative blood and asked them to come in before the end of the year.

Carolyn Thomas of Cleveland answered the call. She came in to donate blood Wednesday at LifeSouth's McEver Road office, admitting she was a little behind on her regular schedule of giving blood every eight weeks.

"They called me because I've got O negative blood," she said. "It's very important to give blood, especially around the holidays when there's so many accidents."

LifeSouth will also be having a big blood drive today to help boost the blood supply during the holidays.

A mobile unit will be in the parking lot of the Dawsonville Walmart from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

It will be more festive than the typical blood drive by including hotdogs, drinks and a drawing to win an iPad.

"The holidays have depleted our supply so much," said Sondra Wallace-Foster, assistant regional manager. "This gives us a chance to start off the new year in a better position."

Each person can give one unit of blood, which is roughly equal to one pint.

Wallace-Foster said LifeSouth needs to collect about 40 units of blood each day to meet the needs of Northeast Georgia.

"Unfortunately, we're falling short of that very frequently," she said.