This is the slowest time of year for blood donations and the Blood Center of Iowa is putting out an appeal for donors to contribute a pint. Spokeswoman Allison Hay says blood supplies have been slacking since Thanksgiving and she encourages Iowans to help in saving -three- lives with their single donation.

Hay says "We separate each unit of blood that we collect into three different components, the red cells, the plasma and the platelets, and then all of those different components can go to help different hospital patients, so, essentially, your one donation can save three different lives." Hay says all blood types are welcome but one type is of particular value.

She says O-negative is the universal blood type as any patient can take O-negative blood, so it’s especially useful in the emergency room when trauma victims are brought in who don’t know or can’t say their blood type. Hay says donating blood is easy and takes about an hour of your time.

To donate, you have to be at least 16-years-old and weigh at least 120 pounds. Also, you need to be in good health. If you’ve had a cold recently, you might be turned away. The Blood Center serves 34 Iowa hospitals in 33 counties. For more information, visit the "" or call tollfree 800-287-4903.

Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City