The national Latino population is more than 35 million. According to the Population Reference Bureau, Latinos could account for 20 percent of the population by 2035. That means the Red Cross is in need of a greater blood supply from minority groups.
“Having a diverse donor pool helps the community,” says Loni White. She is the regional communications manager at the American Red Cross. “Some ethnic groups have unique antigens on their blood, and when that blood is transfused into a person of like ethnicity, there’s going to be a better chance of transfusion.”
White says a diverse donor pool is not yet a reality — African Americans make up only three-percent of the donor pool, Latino Americans less than two-percent and Asian-Americans less than one-percent. The problem is compounded, White says, by the fact that some rare donors have valuable blood.
“Type ‘O’ blood is universal, and most hospitals prefer. Concluding that 70-percent of African Americans have type ‘O’, and they can assist an entire community.” White says many Latinos also have type ‘O’ blood, making it even more necessary to have an adequate blood supply to administer as the nation’s demographics shift.
White says it’s very important for African, Asian, and Latino Americans to become blood donors. In order to donate blood you must be at least 17 years old and a minimum of 110 pounds. If donors are 16 years old they must have written parental consent.
There are several blood drives coming up in the next few weeks. To find out more in your area, go to GiveBloodGiveLife.org.