Broome County Account Manager for the American Red Cross, Esperanza Gutierrez is the guest on the weekly, local public affairs program Southern Tier Close Up talking about the critical need for blood donations right now.

Kathy Whyte/ WNBF News-Esperanza Gutierrez Red Cross Blood Services

Gutierrez says her job with the Red Cross involves not only helping to set up and publicize blood drives in the area but also to educate people about the ins and outs of blood donation.

The Southern Tier native says there is always a need for all blood types but especially the universal donor O- and the fairly common O+ that can be given to patients outside of that particular type as well.  An exact blood type match is always best.

Donation of whole blood can take an hour or less from the check in process to the snacks after donations and, Gutierrez says, some local donors say they they maintain a regular donation schedule as a sort of way to reinvigorate their system.

While there are some screening requirements, Gutierrez says people of all ages, even children too young to donate themselves, can learn about donation and become "Pint-size Heroes."

The Red Cross has just also launched a special effort with the American Cancer Society and Security Mutual Life's "Sock Out Cancer" campaign highlighting the need for blood associated with cancer treatments.  A blood drive is being held February 19th at Binghamton University as part of that effort.

To contact Gutierrez for a presentation or to schedule a blood drive, call (607) 222-5456.

To find a blood drive near you and to schedule an appointment, go to www.redcrossblood.org.  Walk-ins are also accepted at the Red Cross Blood Center on Harry L. Drive in Johnson City in the Small Mall.

Southern Tier Close Up is heard Saturdays 1360 AM WYOS.