Celebrate Black History Month with American Red Cross

Published 9:28 am Monday, January 28, 2013

African-Americans have played a critical role in the history of the American Red Cross, and in just a few short minutes, a blood donor can help change the course of history for a patient in need.

“About 70 percent of African-Americans have type O or type B blood. These are often the first blood types to reach critically low levels during a shortage,” said Delisa English, chief executive officer of Carolinas Blood Services Region. “African-American blood donors play a critical role in meeting the constant need for blood.”

Approximately 100,000 people in the United States, most of them African-American, are affected by sickle cell disease. One of the most common treatments for this disease is regular blood transfusions. Many of these patients have rare blood types unique to African-Americans, meaning these patients rely on donors with matching blood types from the same ethnic or genetic background.

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The contributions African-Americans have made to blood banking over the years go beyond donating blood. African-Americans have helped shape blood services programs within the Red Cross. In the 1940s, Dr. Charles Drew laid the foundation for modern blood banking through his pioneering work in blood collection and plasma processing and served as the first medical director of the first Red Cross blood bank. The world-renowned Holland Research Laboratory in Rockville, Md., bears the name of educator and U.S. Ambassador Jerome Holland who streamlined the growth of Red Cross laboratories in the early 1980s.

“The Red Cross encourages donors to help make history and celebrate the contributions of Dr. Charles Drew, Jerome Holland and African-American blood donors across the nation by giving the ‘Gift of Life’ this February,” added English.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities:

Thursday, Feb. 28; 2– 6:30 p.m.

Polk County American Red Cross Chapter Blood Drive (231 Ward Street; Columbus, NC)

Call Joyce Stott at 828-894-2700 for further information or to schedule an appointment.

To find a convenient blood donation opportunity near you, or to schedule an appointment to donate, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org.

– article submitted