The surge in the flu and other common winter illnesses has Arkansas Blood Institute (ABI) ready for ‘double trouble’. "If you’re well, you are needed to stand in the gap for those who aren’t, at the Greenwood Walmart blood drive," said John Armitage, M.D., ABI president and CEO.

"With more hospitalized, the need for blood often increases," said Armitage. "At the same time, some regular blood donors are coming down with viruses or the flu and temporarily can’t give. It can be a real challenge."

Anyone, who is age 16 and older * and healthy, can donate Friday, Feb. 28 from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Each blood donor at the drive will receive a hot/cold gel pack, free health screenings and Donor Rewards points.

Blood donors can choose to forgo the gel pack. Then, funds designated for this item will be directed to Global Blood Fund (GBF), a charity whose mission is to make safe blood available in the world’s poorest countries.

Although all blood types are needed to maintain Arkansas Blood Institute’s typical three-day supply, those with O-negative type blood are especially encouraged to donate. According to the American Association of Blood Banks, those with O-negative blood type make up only nine percent of the national population. However, O-negative blood can be used by anyone in an emergency situation, regardless of their type.

Donors with Arkansas Blood Institute provide every drop of blood needed by patients in all 21 medical facilities in south central and western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma. Appointments to donate are not required but are available by calling Greg Womack at 479-652-2362, or visiting www.arkbi.org.

* 16 year olds must weigh at least 125 pounds and provide signed parental permission, 17 year olds must weigh at least 125 pounds, 18+ year olds must weigh at least 110 pounds.