Every day of the year thousands of African American Blacks face a frightening emergency. They, of course, suffer from all of the same life-threatening Blood related situations that necessitate Blood transfusion and the introduction of Blood products as every other human in the world. The problem for African American Blacks in the United States is that there is a disproportionately large number of individuals with rare Blood types unique to that race. In our opinion, this is a very serious health risk in the African American Black community that must no longer be ignored.
Those who need a Blood transfusion require an exact match of certain Blood traits of the Blood donor with their own. Statistically, because these traits are inherited, a patient's most likely match is another family member. Unfortunately, over 70% of African American Blacks can not find a Blood type match within their own families. They, therefore, require an unrelated individual willing to be tested and then to donate Blood. This is very simple in words, but when the reality of this acute need sets in, the order is, more often than not, too tall. The result is often fatal.
It is possible for an African American Black patient to match Blood types with a donor from any racial or ethnic group. However, the most likely transfusion reaction free Blood type match, and the least likely to be available, is an African American Black person. In every country in the world and with every individual in the world, the most compatible Blood transfusion is most likely to come from someone of the same ethnic, racial and genetic background as the patient.
The problem is likely to worsen. The African American Black population is outpacing the white population. More African American Blacks will need even more Blood in the future. Although more and more African American Black patients are finding Blood donors, the number is still appallingly less than with Caucasians. African American Black patients will continue to benefit from increasingly more African American Black individuals having their Blood tested, and then donating Blood.
The irony of this tragic situation is startling. Dr. Charles R. Drew (1904-1950), a surgeon, teacher, and researcher in Canada, the United States and in England, was a founder of two of the world's largest Blood banks. Due to his research into the storage and shipment of Blood plasma, he is credited with saving the lives of countless thousands during World War II. This helped make the world universally aware of the utility and practicality of Blood banking. He was director of the first American Red Cross effort to collect, type and bank Blood on a large scale. Oh, by the way, Dr. Drew was Black. View the Dr. Charles R. Drew biography HERE.
Is There a Possible Reason for This Problem?
In the opinion of BloodBook.com, Yes. In the memorable past, health care officials have violated the trust of African American Blacks. One case in point is, the inhumane Tuskegee syphilis study, where departments of public health continually denied treatment to Black men, some of whom were deliberately exposed to disease, from 1928 until, believe it or not, 1972.
Furthermore, the American Red Cross went along with demands for racial labeling of Blood and Blood products during World War II and continued the practice for decades afterward which effectively outlawed life-giving cross-racial Blood transfusions.
The foregoing may not excuse the problem, but may be contributing reasons.
In a survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly 65% of African American Blacks surveyed said that they believe that they receive health care of a poorer quality than whites. We at BloodBook.com do not wonder why!
Are There Problems More Critical or Unique to African American Blacks?
Sickle Cell Disease - an inherited disease that affects more than 80,000 people in the United States, 90% of whom are of African descent. Sickle cell disease causes anemia, jaundice, damage to the lungs, kidney and spleen, acute pain, and strokes. Sickle cell patients, especially very young children, may be easily, and often fatally, overwhelmed by infections. Although most patients will not be cured of sickle cell disease, medical care and Blood transfusions help manage and prevent the pain and the most serious complications of the disease. Large amounts of Blood are needed to treat sickle cell disease.
Diabetes - Approximately 2.3 million or 10.8% of all African American Blacks have diabetes, however, one-third of them do not know it. With its complications such as blindness, kidney disease, amputations, heart attack and stroke, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death (sixth-leading cause of death by disease) in the United States. African American Blacks are 1.7 times more likely to have diabetes, than Non-Hispanic Whites. Over 25% of African American Blacks between the ages of 65 and 74 have diabetes. One in four African American Black women over 55 years of age has diabetes. African American Blacks experience higher rates of at least three of the serious complications of diabetes: blindness, amputation and end stage renal disease (kidney failure.) Large amounts of Blood are needed to treat each of these diseases resulting from diabetes.
Prostate Cancer - African American Blacks have the highest incidence and mortality from prostate cancer of any group in the world. It is important for this group of individuals to act on this problem. Prostate cancer kills about 40,000 American men every year. African American Blacks have a 60% higher risk of developing prostate cancer and a 100% higher death rate from the disease, as compared with Caucasian Americans. Large amounts of Blood are needed to treat prostate cancer.
Lupus - Affecting one in every 250 African American Black adult females, lupus occurs four times more often in African American Blacks than in whites. Researchers in arthritis/immunology programs have found a genetic association which seems to operate primarily in African American Black families that may lead to finding the genes important in causing the disease. Here, too, large amounts of Blood are needed to treat lupus as it deteriorates the diseased body.
Bone Marrow Transplants - If you are an African American Black the chances of finding a bone marrow match are slim. Out of 2.6 million people currently on the National Marrow Donor Registry, only 8% are African American Blacks. Exact matches of Blood type and included Blood traits are needed in this procedure.
More - African American Blacks are also at a greater risk than Caucasians in the United States for other cancers, heart disease, leukemia, kidney disease, HIV and AIDS, aplastic anemia as well as mother and infant complications during childbirth, among others. All of these serious medical conditions most often require Blood transfusions. Here again, in each of these life threatening disease situations, large amounts of exactly matched Blood are needed.
What Is Being Done To Help African American Black Patients?
The American Red Cross.....
Programs like the model effort in Rochester New York. Click HERE to view their web site. For information on this Red Cross African American Black Blood collection program, please call 1-716-241-4405.
By reaching the potential donor pool through the Black and other media, churches and community and corporate groups, large numbers of African American Blacks could come forward to answer the call for volunteer Blood donors. The need for matching Blood is so acute, however, that this relatively small minority group is left un-serviced.
Click HERE to view the Red Cross Importance of Minority Donations web site.
Should I Decide to Donate, What Will I Be Asked to Do?
You will be directed to a local Blood donor center or hospital. An accredited technician will extract the equivalent of two tablespoons of Blood from your arm for testing. The Blood is then tested at a Blood laboratory and typed to identify your exact Blood type and sub-type. The Blood types of the donor and transfusion recipient must match exactly for a patient's body to accept the donated Blood. After that Blood test, if you are fortunate to have found your rare Blood type, you will be entered into a national registry, a pool of many thousands of potential Blood donors with catalogued rare Blood types. Additional testing will be required if you have a rare match.
Then, you can give your rare life-giving Blood to another African American Black individual. On a more selfish note, when you need a Blood transfusion, that Blood can be quickly found for you
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last updated 03/10/2013