Diverse Blood Donation is Essential to Serving Patients Of Every Ethnicity
Blood and Diversity: Why is an ethnically diverse blood supply important?
Matching matters. Diversity in donation is important for improved patient outcomes, as rare and uncommon blood types are often found in similar ethnic populations.
- Blood type is inherited; therefore, a compatible donor is often someone of a similar ethnic background.
- Sickle cell patients may require chronic blood transfusions to treat their disease, for example. Since 44% of African Americans also have Ro blood, providing matched Ro blood to sickle cell patients may provide a safer blood transfusion.
- Increasing diversity in our donors improves the chances of finding a match and may be the difference between life and death for a patient in need.
In short, a more ethnically diverse donor base will save more lives. Be a diversity champion and donate blood today.
Donor Disparity and the Need for Diverse Blood Donors
Versiti acknowledges that a distrust of the American health care system – for valid historical reasons – has made it challenging to recruit underrepresented blood donors. Shameful incidences of systemic racism and discrimination such as the infamous Tuskegee Study and the treatment of Henrietta Lacks, as well as disparities in health outcomes among different ethnicities, have understandably contributed to uncertainty around blood donation and an unwillingness to donate. Blood banks, too, have often failed to address the concerns and assuage the fears of these potential donors.
Overall, 38% of the general population in the U.S. are eligible to donate blood, but less than 10% do so annually, and these donors are disproportionately white. Black, indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) blood donations have historically been low in the U.S. According to a 2011 study from Emory University, only 16% of Black individuals donate blood.
Research and Discovery Around Iron Deficiency
Anemia is the most common blood disorder in the United States. It affects your red blood cells and hemoglobin, which is the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. You need iron in order to make hemoglobin. Most people who have anemia have a shortage of iron, or iron deficiency anemia. The prevalence of iron deficiency anemia is 2% in adult men, 9-12% in non-Hispanic white women, and nearly 20% in black and Mexican-American women.
A Versiti Blood Research Institute team led by Alan E. Mast, MD, PhD, Senior Investigator, participates in the National Institutes of Health’s REDS (Recipient Epidemiology and Donor Evaluation Study) program. Its previous findings have advanced knowledge on blood donors and recipients, including iron levels in donors.
You Are Your Own Best Match Flyer
People who look like you, need donors like you. Help us spread awareness in your community by reading this educational flyer.
What is Sickle Cell Disease Flyer
Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited disorder of hemoglobin. Learn how this affects people and how donors like you make a difference.
Why is Ro Blood Important and Who Needs It Flyer
As an Ro donor, you have the power to save lives of patients in your community, especially individuals battle sickle cell disease.
Donate in Wisconsin
Every day, patients in your community need blood transfusions to survive and thrive. They rely on the generosity of donors like you, who help ensure a safe, healthy blood supply. Make an appointment to donate blood today.