ADA — January is Blood Donor Month in Oklahoma and Oklahoma Blood Institute has been making its way across the state in an effort to collect components and inform the public about blood-related topics and issues.

Dr. Jean E. Forsberg, assistant medical director and medical director of transfusion services for OBI, explained current issues the organization is concerned with.

"We’re the major blood supplier for Oklahoma,” she said. According to Forsberg OBI supplies 112 hospitals in the state. “We need to collect about 17,500 components a month, in order to supply our needs."

According to their website, the OBI is a not-for-profit center that was established in 1977 and is committed to providing specialized medical services, educating the community and medical leaders, pioneering in blood-related research and maintaining a sufficient community blood supply.

"O negative is the most needed blood type," Forsberg said. “Red blood cells, they have a certain amount of shelf life. Once we collect them, they're good for 42 days. They may not be used right then or we may move them to another hospital, because we try to make it so that nothing outdates.”

Forsberg also said blood given by local donors stays local.

"It is OBI's philosophy, that it's blood donated by Oklahomans and it stays here in Oklahoma," she said. “We always take care of Oklahoma first.”

Using local blood also cuts back on the transmittal of disease.

"The infectious disease rates for Oklahoma are different than in other parts of the country,” she said, “so it makes it a little safer."

People wishing to make a blood donation must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 105 pounds and be in good health. People can give blood every 56 days.

Types of donations taken are whole blood donations, used by trauma patients; red blood cell donations, which are used by heart surgery and transplant patients; plasma, used by newborns, blood disorder patients, and burn victims; and platelets, for cancer patients.

Facts listed by the OBI state someone in the United States needs blood every three seconds, the average adult has 10 pints of blood in his or her system, while a newborn baby only has one cup of blood, and the average heart pumps one million barrels of blood in a lifetime.

For more information about becoming a blood donor, contact the Oklahoma Blood Institute at 1-877-OBI-GIVE or visit their website at www.obi.org.