Printable Version

African American/Black Community Outreach Program

It is vital that the blood supply reflect the diversity of our community to best meet the needs of hospital patients. A diverse blood supply helps ensure that a wide variety of blood types are available for those in need.

Regular blood donations from people of color are essential because blood types O and B are more prevalent in these communities. It is estimated that approximately fifty percent of African Americans have type O blood.

Many hospital patients sometimes receive blood transfusions as a part of the treatment for diseases that are prevalent in the Black community including lupus, diabetes, prostate cancer and Sickle Cell Disease.

Five percent of the total eligible of U.S. population gives blood, and while Black people represent 12-14% of the total U.S. population, only around 1% of the Black community donates blood.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • Why is it important to donate blood?
  • Every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood.
  • One out of every 10 people admitted to the hospital needs blood.
  • A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 units of blood.
  • Whole blood donation can help save up to 3 lives.
  • Donating blood is safe and easy.

Why is it important for the Black/African American community to donate blood?

  • Genetically similar blood is best for those who need repeated or large volumes of blood transfusions such as patients with Sickle Cell Disease.
  • A diverse blood supply helps ensure that a wide variety of blood types are available for those in need.
  • It is possible for a patient of one ethnicity to have a rare blood type that is more common in an ethnic group other than their own.
  • Blood types O and B are prevalent in people of color than in other populations.

Can I donate blood if I have diabetes?

  • Most donors with diabetes can donate after 2 weeks of starting insulin injections
  • Check out the eligibility guidelines or call 1-800-RED CROSS

Can I donate blood if I have high blood pressure?

  • Most people with high blood pressure can donate blood.
  • Medication does not necessarily preclude you from donating.
  • Donors will be evaluated by the Region’s Collection staff at the time of the donation.

Can I donate blood if I have a tattoo?

  • If your tattoo was performed more than 12 months before the date of your blood donation you are eligible to donate.
  • Donors with tattoos may donate blood if the tattoo was performed at a state licensed/inspected facility.
  • For the safety of patients the American Red Cross requires donors who have received a tattoo in a non-regulated state to wait 12 months after the date of the tattoo to donated blood.
  • To determine if the state in which you received your tattoo is regulated call 1-800-RED CROSS.

Can I donate blood if I have Sickle Cell Trait?

  • Donors with Sickle Cell Trait can donate blood and participate in the Sickle Cell Donor program.
  • Learn more about Sickle Cell Disease.

What is the blood donation process?

  • Registration – our staff or volunteers will sign you in and go over basic eligibility and donation information.
  • Mini-Physical – you will answer some questions during a private and confidential interview about your health history and places you have travelled.
  • The Donation – the actual donation takes about 8-10 minutes, during which you will be seated comfortably.
  • Refreshment – after donating, you should have a snack and something to drink provided by the American Red Cross in the refreshment area.

What can I do if I am deferred?

  • Determine if your deferral is a temporary or permanent.
  • If permanent,
    • You can become a volunteer.
    • Ask family and friends to donate.
    • Organize a blood drive at your job, church, school or community group.

How do I prepare to donate blood?

  • Be sure to drink plenty of fluids the day of your donation.
  • Wear clothing with sleeves that can easily be rolled up above the elbow.
  • Maintain a healthy level of iron in your diet before donating.
  • Bring a list of medications you are taking.
  • Bring either your donor card, driver’s license or two other forms of picture identification.

Contact Us

To schedule a blood donation appointment Click Here or call 1-800-RED CROSS.

To receive more information about organizing a blood drive in your community, Click Here