Blood Assurance seeks blood donations this week. (Photo: Contributed)

Blood Assurance officials are hoping community members can help replenish a “critically low” blood supply.

According to a news release, increased hospital usage and lower overall blood donations have affected the supply.

The center is especially in need of O-negative, the universal blood type.

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“We are asking the community to help us save lives,” Dr. Elizabeth Culler, medical director at Blood Assurance, said in a prepared statement. “In times of emergencies and trauma situations, hospitals rely on having a steady supply of O-negative blood.”

A single donation can save up to three lives. The blood is used daily to save people of every age, including premature babies, oncology patients, trauma victims and surgery patients, among others.

To be eligible, donors must be at least 17 (or 16 with parental consent), weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health. Donors are asked to drink plenty of fluids and eat an iron-rich meal prior to donating. Caffeine use should be avoided.

A list of donation centers is available here.

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