Latino Caucus Teams Up with Illinois Blood Centers to Promote Increased Donations Among Latino Population
As Co-Chair of the Latino Caucus, Senator Iris Martinez (D-Chicago) spoke of the importance of blood donation among the Latino Community and emphasized the need for more minorities across the state to become regular blood donors.
Though Latinos make-up the largest minority of the US population at 17%, they make up less than 4% of blood donors. The majority of Latinos have type O blood, the blood type in highest demand, so it’s important to know that Latino blood donors can make a powerful contribution to many patients in need.
Margaret Vaughn, Government Affairs Director of the IL Coalition of Community Blood Centers (ICCBC), explained, “According to the American Association of Blood Banks, 57% of the Latino population has type O blood. Studies have shown much higher rates of type O blood in Latin America for example, 62% in Guatemala and 71 % in Mexico”
Kirby Winn, President of ICCBC and Director of Public Relations for the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center, described the difference in blood types. “There are four major blood groups: A, B, AB and O. A and B are antigens, markers on blood cells that the immune system can target. Blood labeled ‘O’ lacks those antigens. Blood also is designated as either positive or negative.”
While Illinois’ blood centers rely heavily on all blood types, Winn explained how type O positive blood is especially valuable. It is the most common blood type, which means it's most in demand, and if you have type O blood, only a type O transfusion will work for you. If you're accidentally given another type, your immune system would spot the antigens and attack.
However, people with other blood types can receive type O blood in an emergency. That's why type O donors are called universal donors and why blood banks make a concerted effort to recruit them, both O positive and the fairly rare O negative donors.
“As community leaders, it is important to get the message out among our constituencies of the critical need to donate blood. Blood donation tends to be taken for granted and people often think that there will be enough blood because ‘someone else will donate’. Don’t wait, step up to the plate and become a regular blood donor today,” said Sen. Martinez.
“During my career in law enforcement, I have seen how critical blood can be in times of accidents and emergencies – and how important it is to have immediate access to a safe blood supply,” said Representative Ed Acevedo (D-Chicago). “I would like to thank the blood centers of Illinois for the tremendous job they do in ensuring this is possible.”
“Since blood is needed every two seconds and has a shelf life of only 42 days, there has to be a constant supply of donated blood, tested and ready to go at all times. We just can’t wait for an emergency to happen to donate. I urge you to reach out to your local blood center today and become a regular donor,” Said Rep. John Cabello (R-Machesney Park).
"Blood providers will always seek a donor base that is reflective of the population we serve," said Kirby Winn, President of the ICCBC and Director of Public Relations for MVRBC. "A broad spectrum of support helps ensure the stability of the blood supply while providing compatible blood components for patients of any genetic background. We are grateful for the support of volunteer donors, blood drive coordinators and lawmakers who all work to ensure our ability to provide this critical, lifesaving resource for patients and hospitals across the state of Illinois.”
“It’s not always well known how vigilant we have to be to maintain local blood supplies to meet the demand of our friends and neighbors in need, so it’s important to make sure the message is delivered with a strong and united voice,” state Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora, said. “Let’s all remember to do our part and help save lives by donating blood today.”
Dona Sangre Salva 3 Vidas Campaign
Pictured: Members of the Chicago City Council Latino Caucus along with officials from the National Kidney Society, National Lukemia and Lympona Foundation and Coalition gather at a press conference at City Hall to kick-up “Dona Sangre Salva 3 Vidas Campaign.”
In conjunction with Blood Cancer Awareness Month and National Hispanic Heritage Month, Chicago Aldermen gathered at City Hall on September 22nd to kick off their “Dona Sangre, Salva 3 Vidas” campaign, and call for increased volunteers to donate blood and join the bone marrow registry, among the Latino population.
Though Latinos make-up the largest minority of the US population at 17% (24% in Chicago), they make up less than 4% of blood donors. Yet majority of Latinos (nearly 60%) have type O blood, the universal blood type.