Local fraternity aims to raise awareness about the need for a diverse blood supply

May 1, 2013

WATERLOO, Iowa - Fraternity members of the Eta Gamma Gamma chapter of Omega Psi Phi are hosting a blood drive with the American Red Cross on May 18. The chapter, whose members are predominantly African-American, hopes to raise awareness about the need for a diverse blood supply.

“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,” said Quentin Hart, volunteer blood drive coordinator, Waterloo City Councilman and Associate Director of Multicultural Affairs at Hawkeye Community College. “It’s important that the blood supply reflects the diversity of our community to best meet the needs of hospital patients. By hosting this blood drive, we hope to raise awareness and educate others about blood donors’ lifesaving impact.”

Omega Psi Phi Blood Drive on Saturday, May 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Cunningham School of Excellence, 1224 Mobile St., Waterloo, Iowa 

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.

Donations collected at the Omega Psi Phi blood drive may be used for trauma victims – due to accidents and burns – heart surgery patients, organ transplant patients, premature babies, patients with complications during childbirth, and for patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or other diseases. All blood types are needed to ensure an adequate blood supply.

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 consent 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 about 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.