STATE – National Hispanic Heritage Month is Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, and New Jersey Blood Services, a division of the New York Blood Center, is calling on the community to help meet the great need for blood from diverse donors.
Every two seconds, someone needs blood. NJBS serves one of the most diverse areas in the nation making it imperative to not only maintain an ample blood supply, but also collect blood that closely mirrors the diversity of the community.
Currently, NJBS donors are 71% White, 8.4% Hispanic/Latino, 6.8% Black/African American, and 4.6% Asian/Pacific Islander. Unfortunately, this does not mirror the diversity of the patient population.
Transfusions are made by blood type, not race, and hospitals receive blood marked by blood type (A, B, AB, O, A+, B+, AB+ O+, A-, B- AB- O-). But for some patients who receive numerous transfusions over time, finding a blood match may become increasingly difficult as they begin to develop antibodies to more common blood. This is where precise matching of antigens becomes important. Matching blood for a patient with sickle cell disease by finding donors of similar ethnicity is a good example of this.
National Sickle Cell Awareness Month, now through Sept. 30, overlaps the onset of National Hispanic Heritage Month. One in 500 African Americans and one in 1,400 Latinos are born with sickle cell disease. Minority blood donors play a key role in the fight against this disease.
The goal of New York Blood Center’s PreciseMatch® Program is to ensure diverse communities have access to the most precisely matched blood products whenever patients might need them. The program has been helpful to Hispanic sickle cell patients including 4-year-old Ivanna Mercado, and brothers Cesar and Ramon Cabrera.
Each month, Ivanna relies on blood donors to save her life. Cesar and Ramon, who also require regular blood transfusions, are passionate about teaching the Hispanic and Latino communities about the importance of donating blood.
To donate blood, call: 1-800-933-2566 or visit www.nybloodcenter.org. People can give blood every 56 days.
You can also help patients in need by organizing a blood drive in your community, house of worship, or place of work.
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