The American Red Cross will no longer be using letters A, B and O on all of its social media pages, signs and website to showcase the importance of blood types A, B and O.
“It’s not on people’s minds,” said Samantha Pollard, Midwest communications manager at American Red Cross Blood Services. “People don’t realize how much blood is needed.”
The Missing Types campaign took off in the United Kingdom in 2015 with the National Health Service Blood and Transplant persuading several businesses to remove the letters A, B and O from their names. The initiative, which is geared toward increasing awareness of blood donation, was then picked up by different countries worldwide, including the U.S.
But Pollard said only 3 percent of Americans donate blood each year, and that the organization is experiencing a steady decrease of 8,000 donors yearly.
A recent survey conducted on behalf of the American Red Cross found 74 percent of the public underestimate the frequency of blood transfusions occurring in their areas, adding blood is needed every two seconds to save someone’s life.
The organization launched its Missing Types campaign on June 11 with a goal of recruiting 370,000 donors nationwide by the end of the summer. These numbers will include new recruits, as well as people who were encouraged to continue making donations.
Campaigners are said to believe the absence of these letters will be striking enough for people to understand the impact of having blood types A, B and O missing from hospital shelves.
Last year, the American Red Cross collected only 4,700 pints of blood in Columbus and 5,400 pints of blood throughout Platte County.
“I think there’s always potential to be higher,” said Kyle Jensen, account manager and donor recruiter with American Red Cross.
Pollard added the organization needs to collect roughly 400 pints of blood every day in Nebraska to meet the needs of hospital patients.
Jensen said out of 40 percent of all potential donors, only 5-7 percent actually do donate. He encouraged community members to attend the blood drives held 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every Thursday at First United Methodist Church Outreach Center, 3602 16th St.
Each collection can potentially save up to three lives, he said.
Jensen stressed the organization tries to encourage people to donate when they are eligible because the shelf life for blood is only 42 days. Each time a person donates blood, the collection is separated, using a centrifuge, into three components: platelets, red blood cells and plasmas.
Platelet collections, which are commonly used to treat cancer patients, can only be stored for five days.
Jensen said red blood cells are important to treat cancer patients, trauma patients and premature babies.
Plasma can be frozen for up to a year and is predominately used to treat burn victims.
Jensen is working hard to bring local businesses and churches on board with the campaign to omit the letters A, B and O, hoping to increase the number of donors in the community.
Pollard extended her gratitude toward existing regular donors in the community, which was said to be slowly increasing each year.
“We are so grateful to those who give as often as they can, but we’d love to get new donors in so we can avoid the declines that we see every year,” she said.
People who are interested in donating blood can learn more by calling 402-910-0681 to schedule an appointment.
Natasya Ong is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.