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This Blood Type Is Super Critical In Emergency Situations & Canada Needs More Donors

But only 7% of Canadians have it — do you?

Sponsored Content Contributing Writer, Studio
This Blood Type Is Super Critical In Emergency Situations & Canada Needs More Donors

Do you know what your blood type is? Unless you've donated blood (or needed a transfusion yourself), there's a good chance that you haven’t got a clue.

It's worth finding out because if your blood is type O-negative (O-), your blood donation could have a bigger impact than you might think.

People with O- blood are considered universal donors. This means their blood can be used to help anyone — regardless of the recipient’s blood type — in emergency situations.

Sounds great, right? There's just one problem: O- blood is in high demand and in short supply.

Since only 7% of Canadians have O- blood, and even fewer know it and make an effort to donate, the supply of this critical type of blood is under constant pressure.

Why Is O-Negative Blood So Special?

Buckle up for a little science lesson. Blood types are named (A-, AB+, O-, etc.) based on the presence or absence of ABO and Rh antigens.

Anything that can trigger someone's immune system is considered to be an antigen. If a patient receives a blood transfusion that has incompatible antigens with their own blood type, the reaction can land them in a whole lot of trouble.

What makes O- blood special is that it's free of antigens, which eliminates the possibility of a bad reaction.

Since O- blood is safe for everyone, it's highly valuable in cases of emergency when there's little time to test the patient's blood type or dig around in their medical records for it.

About 12%-13% of the blood that Canadian Blood Services sends off to hospitals is O-. But, because it's in such high demand and there's a low number of active donors, O- blood goes pretty quickly.

How To Find Out Which Blood Type You Have

Are you curious to know if you fall into that exclusive universal donor club?

Finding out your blood type is as simple as heading to Canadian Blood Services and signing up to donate. Every donor is tested as part of the blood donation process to identify exactly which type they belong to.

You can also ask family members if they know their blood type. If you have a parent who is O-, there’s a 50% chance you are too!

To make sure you're eligible to donate, read over Canadian Blood Services' ABCs of donating blood before you go.

If you find that you’re among the 7% of Canadians with O- blood, consider booking your next appointment before you leave the donor centre.

Since donated blood cannot be used after 42 days, recurring donors (especially ones with O- blood) are key to strengthening Canada's Lifeline. Whole blood can be donated by male donors every 56 days and female donors every 84 days.

There's also a good chance that if you have O- blood, a blood relative may be O- too. Next time you donate, make it a family outing. The more really is the merrier.

Donating blood is a hassle-free process, and the staff at Canadian Blood Services' donor centres are there to keep you as comfortable as possible.

Right now in Canada, someone needs blood every 60 seconds. In their lifetime, half of all Canadians will either need blood themselves or know someone who will. One in every two Canadians are eligible to donate, but only one in 81 actually do.

All kinds of patients benefit from blood donations. If you choose to donate, your blood could help a newborn baby, a cancer patient or someone undergoing an organ transplant.

Carving out just an hour in your day can give someone a chance at the rest of their life, and that's reason enough to donate.

Courtesy of Canadian Blood Services

Canadian Blood Services Needs O- Donors

When: Now

Where: At one of 35 donor centres or 4,000 mobile donor centres across Canada

Details: Contribute to Canada's Lifeline, and find out if you're a universal donor, by donating blood to Canadian Blood Services. Donors with O- blood are especially encouraged to make a donation, but all blood types are welcome.

To learn more about O-negative blood and to book an appointment to donate, visit Canadian Blood Services' website or follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube.