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Stanford University Blood Bank is launching a campaign to identify and educate a group of people who make up only 6.6 percent of the population: those with type O-negative blood.

"We have an unusually high demand for O-negative blood because Stanford is a trauma center for the community, " said Vince Yalon, blood bank administrator. He explained that O-negative is the universal blood type and can be given to anyone, making it vital for accident victims who sometimes must get transfusions before there is an opportunity for blood typing.

In addition, he said, the blood bank must supply the neonatal intensive care unit, and O-negative blood is used extensively for premature infants in the unit.

Stanford has a "fair number" of O-negative people on the donor list, Yalon said, but "we haven't been able to increase the number of donors and our needs are increasing." Stanford often gets O-negative blood from other banks, he said, but the other banks in the Bay Area have also been running short.

Yalon said Stanford is attempting to get O-negative donors to give blood more frequently. "They can donate by law six times a year," he said.

In addition, the blood bank is attempting to find new O- negative donors -- perhaps people who aren't even aware of their blood type. "People who know they have O-negative blood probably have other family members with the same type," he said, expressing the hope that those family members would volunteer to come in for testing.

The blood bank is at 800 Welch Road. People wishing to donate blood are urged to make an appointment by calling 723-7831.


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