'This is a gift' says universal blood type donor

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Great Chicago Blood Drive is less than a week away and we need you to roll up your sleeves and help save lives. All donors are need but there is one blood type that needed most in case of an emergency.

"I think it was a Red Cross phlebotomist that was like, 'Do you know that you're O negative? Do you know what that means?' And I didn't at the time but now I certainly do," said Holly Baker.

It was at that time Holly Baker realized that being O negative and donating blood could impact the lives of others.

"O negative is a universal donor which means that when there is an emergency it is the first blood personnel reach for because there isn't time to figure out what the patients' blood type is," said Baker.

Knowing that, she rolls up her sleeve every chance she can get.

"It really is needed a lot because less than half of the population is eligible to donate blood for whatever the reason may be and then of that group of people less than 10 percent actually do it," said Baker.

Baker has already donated two gallons of blood, saving a countless number of lives along the way.

"So to be O negative is like the one that gave my life purpose and a little bit more meaning because I didn't do anything to get this, this is a gift that I was given. I was given this incredible gift why wouldn't I want to share it with other people," said Baker.

It gave her purpose and a new career path. She took a position with Red Cross in 2017 as a regional communications manager.

The ABC 7 Great Chicago Blood Drive will be held Jan. 10 at two locations -- Merchandise Mart, 222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza in Chicago; and at the Drake Oak Brook Hotel, 2301 York Rd. in Oak Brook. Hours at both sites are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Register by calling 1-800-Red-Cross or by downloading the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org (enter sponsor code: "ABC7Chicago")
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