A Pratt blood drive helped meet the need for a nation wide blood shortage.

It happens every two seconds of every day of every week of every year. Someone in the U.S. needs blood. In a single year, that's 15.7 million units of blood.

Right now, there is a shortage of blood across the country. Hospitals are using the donations as fast as they come in.

All blood types are needed but most important are type O blood, especially O negative that is a universal donor, said Jan Hale, communications manager for the Central Plains Blood Region that covers Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

When someone comes to the emergency room and needs blood, O negative is the blood the hospital staff reaches for first. But all blood types are needed during this short fall in the blood supply.

Pratt just completed a blood drive and has another scheduled from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 9 at Walmart at 2003 East First Street in Pratt. The drive July 28 collected 62 donations, just shy of the 67 pint goal. That shortage is mirrored across the country.

Most donations are whole blood and donors can give every two months. There is a method of donation called Power Reds that collects two units of red blood cells while returning the rest of the blood fluid to the body. This type of donation can be made three times a year. For some donors, this fits their schedules better than coming in six times a year and it results in the same amount of red cells, Hale said.

About 20 percent of blood donations come from high school and college age students. During summer when school is not in session, those donations are not readily available and there accounts for part of the shortage. Other donors take vacations during the summer and they miss their regular donation time, Hale said.

"Summer is a difficult time for donations but the need remains," Hale said.

Preparing for the donation should start a couple of days prior to the donation. Donors should eat regular meals and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

To help make the donation time shorter, make an appointment on-line at redcrossblood.org/rapidpass to take care of the health history questions before donation day. On donation day, vitals are checked including blood pressure and iron levels. The actual donation takes about 10 minutes followed by recovery time in the canteen with refreshments of juice, cookies and more.

Donors have to be at least 17 years old, 16 with written consent from parents, have to weigh 110 pounds and feeling good the day of the donation.

Some people don't believe they can give blood because of medications they are taking or medical conditions. But they should call the Red Cross or come on in to the blood drive and visit with a staff member to determine if they can donate, Hale said.

Blood drives function because of volunteers. They run the canteen, provide escorts for donors and help setup and take down the donation area. They are as much a part of the donation as the drivers.

"We're so indebted to our volunteers," Hale said.

Blood is used for several medical needs including accident victims, mothers that have recently given birth, cancer patients, surgery and other needs.

Blood is made of several components: Plasma-55 percent; red blood cells-45 percent; white blood cells and platelets-less than one percent.

Each element has its own characteristics. Whole blood has a shelf life of 21 to35 days and is used for trauma and surgery. Red blood cells can last up to 42 days and is used for trauma, surgery, anemia, any blood loss, blood disorders like sickle cell.

Platelets only last fire days and are used for cancer treatments, organ transplants and surgery. Plasma can last a year and is used for burn patients, shock and bleeding disorders.

Cyro, a portion of Plasma rich in clotting factors, can last a year and is used for treating hemophilia;

a hereditary coagulation abnormality; is a rich source of fibrinogen, according to the Red Cross Blood site.