Blood donors always are needed, but there is no special push to provide blood products to the Persian Gulf at this time, say Utah County blood bank operators.

Three blood banks in Utah County are maintaining their regular donor hours. All said the hours would be extended if the need arose.Since Dec. 2, Intermountain Health Care has been in close communication with the military, said Dr. Gregory C. Critchfield, medical director of the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center Blood Bank.

While there is no immediate need for blood for use in the Persian Gulf, close contact is maintained with the Armed Services Blood Program so the need can be met if it arises.

Blood cannot be "stockpiled" for an extended period because blood cells deteriorate in 35 to 42 days, Critchfield said. To maintain a blood supply, there needs to be frequent donations, although donors should not give blood more than once every eight weeks.

"We always have need for blood," Critchfield said. "We're not making a plea for blood for the Persian Gulf. But sometimes a shortage can occur for a particular patient. For example, a person may need a particular blood type that is rare.

The most common shortage is for O-negative blood. The reason is because a severely injured patient may need blood before tests are run to determine blood type. In those instances, O-negative blood is used because it is compatible with most people's blood.

In a battle situation, plasma likely would be used, Critchfield said. That is because whole blood requires refrigeration. Plasma is blood with the red cells removed.

IHC is the major blood supplier in Utah. Utah Valley Regional Medical Center is part of the 24-hospital IHC system. The medical center collects approximately 20,000 units of blood a year, making up about one-third of the blood supplied by IHC.

The blood bank at Utah Valley is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Alpha Therapeutic Corp. in Provo takes plasma for medical uses. Donors are paid for their donation. Because the red cells are returned to the person, plasma can be donated as often as twice a week.

Assistant director Lisa Neese said donors always are needed. The hours are from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday. Saturday hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

At Mountain View Hospital in Payson, blood bank supervisor Steve Hancock said donor hours are Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.