Multicultural Spotlight: Rising need for minority blood donors


By: Katiera Winfrey

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana’s blood supply is falling short.

Several organizations are partnering and asking for more minorities to come forward. They say there’s more to donations than just your blood type.

Right now, Black people account for 1/2-% of all blood donations. Matching blood types is important and minorities carry unique antigens that help with complications from child birth and blood diseases that largely impact minorities, such as sickle cell.

Indiana is usually facing an emergency need for blood donations. Now, it has an urgent need for minority blood donors.

“I don’t think that we’ve actually asked our community to help, and they need to be educated about it,” said Carlene Heeter, CASCADE program coordinator with the Indiana Hemophilia and Thrombosis Center.

The IHTC is a partnership between the Martin Center Sickle Cell Initiative, Versiti Blood Center of Indiana, and Be the Match. A minority-focused blood drive will take place Sept. 9 at the MLK center. Advocates say donating on blood type is important, but your ethnic makeup can also be important.

“Minorities have different antigens. If you get blood from a minority, your body tends to try to fight it off less than if you’re not a minority,” said Heeter.

Sickle cell impacts minorities at higher rates, and those experiencing a crisis often undergo blood transfusions to deal with the pain.

Blood transfusions are often needed for patients with cancer, anemia, and organ transplant recipients. With growing minority maternal mortality concern, transfusions are often used during childbirth.

“I didn’t know there was a difference in the antigens versus just the type,” said Heeter. “there’s a lot of myths about minority blood drives. What are they going to do with my blood if I have tattoos? What if I went drinking last night? If I did this, if I did that.”

Heeter says the sign-up process is easy, and it’ll only take about 15 minutes of your time. That could be just enough time to help save a life.


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Contact IHTC

8326 Naab Road
Indianapolis, IN 46260

877.CLOTTER (877.256.8837)
317.871.0010 (fax)