Local Fraternity Members Aim to Help Diversify the Blood Supply
WATERLOO, Iowa - On May 5, local fraternity members of the Eta Gamma Gamma chapter of Omega Psi Phi are hosting an American Red Cross blood drive to support patients in Iowa and across the country. Furthermore, the chapter, whose members are predominantly African-American, hopes to raise awareness about the need for a diverse blood supply.
“It is vital that the blood supply reflects the diversity of our community to best meet the needs of hospital patients,” said Quentin Hart, volunteer blood drive coordinator, Waterloo Mayor Pro-Tem, and Associate Director of Multicultural Affairs at Hawkeye Community College. “My mother worked in a hospital but I never fully understood the need for blood until later in life when a dear friend’s mother needed a blood transfusion. By hosting this blood drive, we hope to raise awareness and educate others about blood donors’ lifesaving impact.”
Minority and diverse populations play a critical role in meeting the constant need for blood. Blood types O and B are often in high demand and are the first to run out during a shortage. The African-American, Asian-American and Latin-American populations carry a high percentage of types O and B blood. In fact, about 70 percent of African Americans have type O or B blood.
Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder that causes anemia, lung and tissue damage, strokes and terrible pain. Approximately 70,000 people in the United States have sickle cell disease, and 90 percent of all cases occur in people of African descent. Many of these patients need blood transfusions on a monthly basis to help manage the disease, and transfusions from blood donors of the same ethnic background help these patients avoid complications.
Nationwide, an average of 44,000 blood donations are needed each and every day to meet the needs of accident victims, cancer patients, children with blood disorders, and more. Currently, blood products are being distributed to hospitals as quickly as they are coming in. All blood types are needed to help maintain sufficient supplies.
How to Donate Blood
Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license, or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies more than 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.