Do you know your blood type? Here's why you should

APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) -- Every two seconds someone in America needs blood, but less than half of the population actually knows their blood type.

Most first time donors at The Community Blood Center in Appleton don’t know their blood type, but they will after they donate.

“When we have a new blood donor... we send them that information in the mail to let them know what their blood type is,” Dr. Todd Straus, chief medical officer at The Community Blood Center, said.

Blaire Joas’ blood type is O positive. He’s a regular at The Community Blood Center. You can find him here every 8 to 16 weeks.

As a volunteer firefighter, he knows the importance of donating blood.

“You go to accident scenes, it kind of makes you more aware of the need for blood transfusions,” said Joas.

Summer time is the most challenging time of year to get blood donations due to summer vacations and students being out of school, which make up about 10% of donations to The Community Blood Center.

“You can't make blood, so you always have to be getting blood from blood donors,” Straus said.

While blood donors of all types are in need, medical professionals say it's handy to know yours.

“When we need blood we often ask for specific blood types to come in, and if you know your blood type it may prompt you to come in a little bit quicker,” Straus said.

Knowing your blood type gives you the knowledge of who you can donate blood to and what types of blood you can receive.

“If you are an O donor, your red blood cells can go to anyone… we call that the universal donor. If you are an AB person, your plasma can go to anyone but your red cells can't,” Straus said.

You can find out your blood type from your health care provider if you've ever had blood drawn, request an ABO test from your doctor's office, or ask to get results sent to you after donating blood. Click here to learn more about your blood type.

Our blood has three components; red cells, platelets and plasma which get separated before heading off to area hospitals.

Red cells, which carry oxygen to our tissues, are used in trauma situations and surgeries. Platelets form clots to stop bleeding, and plasma is the liquid that carries cells and proteins throughout the body and helps blood clots to form.

Each one of the components has an expiration date once extracted from the body.

“Red cells last 42 days after collection… platelets that we collect however only last about 5 days,” Straus said. “While we're always in need of blood types and all blood, platelets are one of those special products that we need to have people coming in quite regularly.”