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Why Diversifying the Blood Supply is So Important

September 26, 2016 by Andrea
Photo: Flickr | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Photo: Flickr | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

We've talked about blood donation a couple of times here at Xickle. Last week, we shared stories of Warriors who are alive today because of such donations, and last year, we brought attention to National Blood Donor Month. To close out Sickle Cell Awareness Month, we want to discuss another related area: the need for more diversity among blood donors. It's true, sickle cell can affect anyone, as we all have blood; however, it affects more African Americans than any other ethnic group. But according to tacklesicklecell.org, only 7.3% of all blood donations in the U.S. come from Black people.

"Certain blood types are unique to specific racial and ethinc groups," says the Red Cross. "Therefore, it is essential that the donor diversity match the patient diversity. For example, U-negative and Duffy-negative blood types are unique to the African-American community. So, sickle cell patients with these blood types must rely on donors with matching blood types in the African-American community."

Warriors rely on blood donations often -- transfusions are a common need. Thankfully, the Red Cross makes it super easy for people to designate their blood donation to a person with sickle cell. Here's how: Simply visit your local Red Cross center, give blood, and let the clinicians know that you want to participate in the Blue Tag program. Open only to the Black community, the Blue Tag program marks donations specifically for use in patients with sickle cell.

Besides giving blood yourself, you can help increase diversity in the national blood supply by hosting a blood drive in your area or by creating a SleevesUp campaign to pledge your donation and encourage your family and friends to do the same.

In order to  ensure that Warriors receiving blood are at lower risk of rejecting the donation and causing more complications, it is imperative that more Black people give blood. "Minority and diverse populations ... play a critical role in meeting the constant need for blood, " the Red Cross confirms.

Have you ever donated or received blood? Share your story below!


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