Minority Donors Have a Unique Power to Help Local Minority Patients In Need
Black and Hispanic donors are urgently needed to help patients for specially matched transfusions. Donors with genetically-similar blood are more likely to be a match for patients from the same ethnic background—which means fewer complications and a better outcome for the patient.
Minority blood donors are essential for a diverse supply of blood because they provide greater access to corresponding phenotypes, often rare ones, required for individuals with diseases such as Sickle Cell Disease and thalassemia.
What is Sickle Cell Disease?
Sickle cell disease is a genetic blood disorder that causes the body to make abnormal hemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells. The abnormal hemoglobin collects inside red blood cells and damages the cells. Damaged cells are hard and sticky, and they clump together and block blood flow through blood vessels.
Nationally, one in 13 African Americans are born with the Sickle Cell Trait (SCT); and one in 365 develops the disease. Locally, more than 350 Greater Cincinnatians live with the disease every day. There is no known cure for the disease.
Sickle Cell Disease can cause anemia and pain, as well as damage to many organs, including the heart, lungs, kidneys and brain. Treatment for sickle cell disease decreases these conditions. The treatment, or management of Sickle Cell Anemia, aims to relieve episodes of pain and the relief of symptoms. Treatments might include medications and blood transfusions.
Best outcomes for Sickle Cell patients receiving blood transfusions is when they receive blood from a donor with a similar genetic background. Blood donors of African descent are more likely to have proteins on their red blood cells that are similar to proteins of Sickle Cell patients. Receiving that blood makes Sickle Cell patients less likely to develop reactions against donated blood cells.
Want more information on minority donors? Listen to this special episode 5 podcast of In the Know with Dr. Oh about the importance of having a diverse donor pool.