MANATEE -- Supplies of O, A and B negative blood were at such critically low levels at SunCoast Blood Bank Tuesday that the bank made an appeal to the public.
"We are asking for donations," Jayne Giroux, a SunCoast spokeswoman, said from SunCoast's donation center in Bayshore Shopping Center, 6026 14th St. W. "It boils down to usage. Our population swells in season and with more and more patients admitted our blood types are getting heavy use."
SunCoast is the blood supplier for Manatee and Sarasota Memorial hospitals as well as Lakewood Ranch Medical Center and Doctor's Hospital in Sarasota.
The bank also supplies Bayflite 2 Emergency Helicopter Service with O negative blood, Giroux said.
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O negative blood is particularly in high demand, because as the universal blood type anyone can receive blood from an O negative donor, Giroux said.
This blood type is most commonly used for traumatic injury, and emergency surgeries. Blood bank officials are anxious because supplies of the rare blood types can be wiped out by one tragic accident, Giroux added.
SunCoast's call for help was answered Tuesday afternoon by blood "first responders" Bradenton's Harrison Sherwin and TJ Owings. Both donated at the Bayshore location, 6026 14th St. W., Bradenton.
"You need to donate blood," said Sherwin, a technical trainer for a home automation company.
"I do this to save lives, to do my share for the community," Owings said.
Sherwin has donated about a gallon of blood at SunCoast, he said.
Donators get a "mini-physical" when they come to give blood, including blood pressure checks and screening for certain diseases, Giroux said.
The pain of giving blood is a two-second "pinch" when the needle enters the arm and after that it's smooth-sailing, Sherwin said.
"And you get food when you are done," Sherwin said, referring to juice and snacks that go along with a donation.
Alyssa Stortz of SunCoast performed Sherwin's blood draw,
"Blood is always needed," Stortz said. "Only five percent of Americans actually donate so we always need blood, especially for our small community blood bank."
"Almost everyone who is healthy can donate as long as they are 16 or older with parental consent," Stortz added.
SunCoast screens for viruses, like HIV and hepatitis and those who have those diseases can't donate, Stortz said.
SunCoast has donor centers in Sarasota, Venice, Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch and Arcadia. Eight bloodmobiles are also stationed throughout these communities. To locate a donor center or a bloodmobile: scbb.org. To schedule an appointment to donate: 1-866-97-BLOOD. Walk-ins are always welcome, Giroux said.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter@RichardDymond.