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Blood Banks Seeking More Hispanic Donors

Armen Hareyan's picture

Blood Donors

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Blood banks across the nation are increasing their efforts to recruit Hispanic blood donors, the AP/Denver Post reports. Hispanics comprise 15% of the U.S. population, but 3% to 4% are blood donors, according to the Post.

Hispanicsare more likely than others to have type O blood, which is considered"universal" because it can be used by people with other blood types inthe case of an emergency. Roughly 45% of the general population hastype O blood. Thirty-seven percent of whites and 47% of blacks havetype O blood. Experts believe that even more Hispanics have type Oblood. Seventy-one percent of blood donors in Mexico are type O, while54% of donors in Venezuela and 62% in Guatemala are type O donors,according to a survey of major blood banks in Latin America byAlexander Indrikovs, blood bank director at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

Celso Bianco of American Red Cross and America's Blood Centersattributed the low donor rates among U.S. Hispanics to recentimmigrants' unfamiliarity with the blood donation system in the U.S.Bianco said a prestocked blood supply is rare in Latin America, wheremost countries' systems rely in large part on "replacement" donationsfrom friends and relatives for those in need of a transfusion. Inaddition, language barriers and the requirement to show a valid ID todonate in the U.S. also prevent many Hispanics from being donors.Indrikovs said, "We have legally millions of people from Latin Americaliving in the U.S. We need to get them on board to be regular blooddonors," adding, "It's a great opportunity we have" (Neergaard, AP/Denver Post, 8/27).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser WeeklyHealth Disparities Report,search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.