MANKATO — It stands to reason that type O negative blood would be the most in demand.

It’s the universal blood type, used in a pinch at clinics and hospitals when people most need it.

That versatility also makes donations especially important so hospitals remain stocked up.

The American Red Cross recently put out a call to blood donors to help fill needs for the universal blood type.

The message comes during a season of heavy travel for spring breaks or Easter. Holiday times lead to fewer donations, making awareness efforts important, said Sue Thesenga, external communications manager for the American Red Cross north central region.

“We see a dip during those holiday times,” she said. “ … The Red Cross needs consistent O negative donations to ensure that we have sufficient supply for hospital patients that rely on it the most.”

The Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato is one of many medical facilities that receives blood from the Red Cross. The stock in Mankato is never low enough to cause a crisis, but O negative is certainly used to a great degree, said Lindsay Hennek, the hospital’s emergency department patient care manager.

“When we have patients come in who we aren’t able to check compatibility before hand, we use O negative,” she said.

That scenario happens on a regular basis, with the patient eventually receiving their own blood type once it’s been determined.

Blood drives play a major role in getting the word out about the need for donations. Despite strong efforts, less than 10 percent of eligible people actually donate blood, according to American Red Cross figures.

To encourage new donors, Hennek pointed out added benefits of drawing blood. When you donate, your blood is checked for any conditions that the patient should be alerted to.

That goes on top of the obvious benefits to the hospitals.

“Blood can’t be manufactured,” Hennek said. “Having it here and available reduces the time (patients) have to wait.”

Follow Brian Arola @BrianArolaMFP.

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