State Black Caucus makes push to increase African-American blood donations

February 29, 2012

Associated Press

The Illinois Coalition of Community Blood Centers is working with the General Assembly's Black Caucus to increase blood donations in the African-American community. The campaign is called "Make Every Drop Count."

Rare blood traits and certain diseases like sickle cell anemia are more prevalent among African-Americans and require frequent blood transfusions.

Dr. Louis Katz is executive vice president of medical affairs at Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center, and he says a well-matched blood transfusion is the difference between life, disability and death for some patients.

Katz says 30 percent of sickle-cell patients develop antibodies that destroy transfused blood cells. The antibodies make it almost impossible to find compatible blood outside African-American donations.

Coalition president Ann McKanna says nationally African-Americans donate less than 1 percent of the country's blood supply.