The Blood Center
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Heart2Heart

Empowered to Save 3 Lives

The Challenge

Thirteen-year-old Jaive needs a blood transfusion once a month. So does 18-year-old Julius. They are just two of the estimated 72,000 people in the United States affected by sickle cell anemia, one of the many health challenges facing the African-American community.

On the flip side, Ira regularly donates blood every eight weeks. Unfortunately, she is among just 13 percent of our blood donors who are African-American.

The numbers just don’t add up. We need more African-American blood donors to save lives in the community. We need you.

Donating Blood is the Answer

To meet the needs of patients, TBC must collect more than 75,000 pints of blood each year from volunteer donors. Yet, of those people eligible to donate, less than 4 percent do.

TBC, which provides blood to Children’s Hospital New Orleans, among many other hospitals, is reaching out to the African-American community through its Heart2Heart Program. Its goal is to partner with churches, schools, civic groups and businesses to increase awareness about the need for blood donations, as well as provide opportunities to give blood at area drives and blood centers.

For illnesses like sickle cell, the most compatible blood is most likely to come from someone of the same ethnicity. This means African-American blood donation may be the best hope for the needs of patients with sickle cell disease, 98 percent of whom are of African-American decent.

And African-Americans face other serious health challenges that may require blood transfusions, including kidney disease, high blood pressure and higher birth rates of premature babies.

About Sickle Cell

An inherited disorder of the red blood cells, sickle cell anemia is the most common genetic disorder in African-Americans. People with sickle cell have red blood cells that contain an abnormal type of hemoglobin. Instead of their normal round shape, red blood cells are crescent-shaped and have difficulty passing through the body’s small blood vessels. This eventually damages vessels and tissues, which can be extremely painful.

One in 500 African-Americans suffers from sickle cell anemia, while one in 12 African-Americans carry the sickle cell trait. Patients with the disease may need 15-25 blood transfusions each year. And there is no substitute for this lifesaving gift.

Diversify the Blood Supply

African-Americans make up over 60 percent of the population within our service area (Southern LA and Southern MS); however, only 13 percent donate blood. Consider this:

  • Every three seconds someone needs blood.
  • The Blood Center routinely needs blood types O and B; the types most commonly found among African-Americans.
  • The Blood Center must collect over 350 units of blood per day to meet the needs of the hospitals it serves.

Giving blood is safe, simple and the process takes less than one hour. The actual donation time is only 10 minutes, and your body quickly replaces the blood you give. Donating blood makes you feel good about yourself. One blood donation gives up to three people a fighting chance at life.