NEW YORK, N.Y.– April is National Minority Health Awareness Month. The goal of National Minority Health Awareness Month is to raise awareness of disparities between the health of minorities and the general population and to highlight initiatives that are bringing about solutions to those disparities.
Even with the increased attention and advances in the quality of care, health and health care disparities have disproportionately affected minority communities across the US health care system.
New York Blood Center (NYBC) is one of the nation’s largest non-profit, community-based blood centers. NYBC has been providing blood, transfusion products and services to almost 200 hospitals, serving 20 million people, in greater New York since 1964.
The need for blood is constant. NYBC serves one of the most diverse areas in the nation making it imperative that we not only maintain an ample blood supply, but also collect blood that closely mirrors the diversity of the communities we serve. Census 2008 facts report the following population numbers for New Jersey: Black/African American: 14.5%; Asian: 7.7 %; Hispanic/Latino: 16.3%
Unfortunately, NYBC’s current blood donor base does not reflect the diversity of the general population nor the patient population it serves. For example, only 12.7% of donors identify themselves as Hispanic/Latino, 8.2% as Black/African American and 5.7% as Asian. This could result in hospitals not having the necessary blood units to match their patient needs.
NYBC is working to close this gap and by strongly encouraging individuals from diverse communities to donate frequently throughout the year in order to maintain safe and ample levels of blood products for our hospitals and their patients. Hospital use of blood products remains high due to surgeries, emergencies, and care of cancer patients. About one in seven people entering a hospital needs blood.
New York Blood Center has a special blood donor program called – PreciseMatch™. The goal of this program is to ensure that everyone has access to the most precisely matched blood products whenever they need them. This goal is achieved through education; outreach and organizing blood drives in ethnically diverse communities.
Blood diseases such as Sickle Cell Anemia, Thalassemia (or Cooley’s Anemia) and Leukemia, continually affect minority populations who require continued blood transfusion. Patients who are chronically transfused may form antibodies, or immune responses, to some red cell antigens. Once antibodies form, these patients then require precisely matched transfusions, which often come from donors of the same racial or ethnic background.
New York Blood Center needs more people of diverse backgrounds to please donate blood so that these patients can have blood they need to stay alive. There are several ways you can help:
- Organize a blood drive. It’s easy and NYBC will help you every step of the way.
- Encourage a friend to come with you to donate blood.
- Volunteer to help recruit more donors, or volunteer at a local blood drive.
To donate blood or for information on how to organize a blood drive, call 1-800-933-2566 or visit www.nybloodcenter.org
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