Blood Donor Diversity
What is donor diversity?
Donor diversity recognizes blood donors that represent a broad spectrum of age, gender, race and ethnic backgrounds, and blood types. Carter BloodCare acknowledges the importance of diversity among our blood donors and is committed to increasing awareness about the impact diversity makes in supporting transfusion needs of patients in local hospitals.
Why is donor diversity important?
Donor diversity in race and ethnic backgrounds is important because patients whose lives depend on transfusion, also have equally diverse inheritance. Since blood type is inherited from our parents, the optimal blood match for a patient receiving frequent transfusions comes from a donor whose heritage is similar. The community blood supply should mirror the people who are potential patients. A hospital with diverse patients requires a diverse blood supply to transfuse them.
What is the link between donor diversity and safe, compatible blood transfusions?
Transfusion support for patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) is central to understanding this link. SCD is an inherited blood disorder affecting the red blood cells.
Patients with SCD can require monthly blood transfusions for life, beginning in childhood. Each transfusion could require one to 10 units of red blood cells, depending on the patient’s age and size. Ideally, the blood is less than seven days old to maximize the lifespan of the healthy red cells. Most SCD patients in the U.S. are Black or of African descent, but the disease also occurs in people of Latin American, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern heritage, too.
Compatible blood for SCD patient support is much more likely found among blood donors who share their race or ethnicity. It is essential that Black and African American donors are well represented among the volunteer donors with Carter BloodCare, if SCD patients and their physicians can be confident there will be compatible blood available for them.
Testing blood beyond groups A, B and O
Medical Director Dr. William Crews explains there are more blood groups than just A, B and O types. Among additional subgroups is where blood centers find the most compatible match for SCD patients and others requiring a complex match.
1 in 3 African American blood donors are a match for a sickle cell patient.
More than 100,000 Americans have sickle cell disease.
Blood transfusions are a lifeline for sickle cell patients.
The lifesaving effects of donating blood
Kelly Bernard, R.N.
“It’s important for myself and sickle cell patients to get blood transfusions so, as my cells are deforming and dying, I am replenished with fresh whole blood.”
Elba Garcia, D.D.S.
“Community means anyone that lives and makes a difference within the society, and we all want to make a difference.”
“Without people donating blood, my daughter probably wouldn’t be alive.”
You can help. Here’s how.
Increasing the diversity of blood donors is crucial in providing adequate and timely care for patients in the community. The need for blood will always be there. No matter what your background, you can help us take care of your community by donating blood. Your blood may be the best match for a patient in need.
People in good health that weigh at least 110 pounds can donate blood starting at age 16 with parental consent; those 17 years and older may give blood independently. There is no upper age limit. Prospective donors can check their eligibility online.
Find a Carter BloodCare donor center or mobile drive near you, or call or text 800-366-2834 to make an appointment to donate blood.
Invite friends, family members and others to join you in donating blood. You can also host a blood drive to get the community involved.
Ask Carter BloodCareDo you have questions or feedback on this topic? Please let us know.
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