Every day, hospital patients undergoing treatment for cancer or other serious diseases depend on blood being there for ongoing care.
April is National Minority Health Month and people from various ethnic backgrounds are encouraged to give blood through the American Red Cross.
“Just by being you, you have the power within you to make a difference to someone in need,” said Annie Marckel, communications manager of the Western Lake Erie Region of the American Red Cross. “That power is blood.”
Blood type, like eye color, is an inherited trait, and differs among ethnic groups. Sometimes, the most compatible blood to give to a critically ill patient comes from someone with the same ethnic, racial and genetic background. Blood donations from diverse donors can also be important in the summer when supplies of high demand blood types like O and B run low.
More than 50 percent of African-Americans have Type O blood, compared to 45 percent of Caucasians. Nearly 20 percent of all African-Americans have Type B blood, and 25 percent of Asians, compared to 11 percent of Caucasian. In the Hispanic population, Type O is prevalent, with close to 60 percent of Hispanics having Type O blood.
The Red Cross reports that just one percent of the U.S. African-American, Hispanic and Asian populations volunteer to donate blood. The most recent U.S. Census data available reveals that these three ethnic groups comprise 30 percent of the nation’s population, and are growing at rates two to five times faster than the population as a whole. “We work hard to reach out and ensure our blood donors are as diverse as the American people,” says Marckel. “It’s vital that our blood supply reflects the rich diversity of our nation to best meet everyone’s needs.”
How to donate blood
To schedule an appointment to donate, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org for more information.
Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), meet weight and height requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height) and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. A Red Cross blood donor card or other form of valid ID is required at the time of donation.