Find the hero in you
Editor’s note: In Honor of National Volunteer Blood Donor Month, we have partnered with United Blood Services to share with our readers a timely and relevant message on the importance of donating blood and, because of the prevalence of Type O blood among Latinos, the unique and significant role our community can play in ensuring the needs of blood banks across our state don’t go unmet.
Claudia Gonzalez thought her two-month-old son Jesse just had a bad cold, but when he started to have severe difficulty breathing, she rushed him to Mesa General Hospital. Tests revealed that Jesse was severely anemic. His condition was so serious that they flew him to St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. A bone marrow biopsy at the hospital revealed that Jesse had a rare condition known as Diamond Blackfan Anemia (DBA), which meant his bone marrow did not produce any red blood cells. Doctors recommended an immediate blood transfusion and began treating him with steroids to stimulate his marrow to produce red blood cells. Unfortunately, the steroid therapy was not effective, so Jesse’s doctors put him on a schedule of blood transfusions every four weeks – a lifesaving practice that has continued for the past 11 years.
Like many people, Claudia assumed that blood transfusions were always available. “I am very thankful for people who are willing to donate blood regularly,” Claudia said. “They are my heroes. It’s the greatest gift they could give, and my son is alive today, thanks to their generosity.”
Jesse’s story is a reminder that patients in the 54 hospitals relying on United Blood Services’ donors require more than 700 people to give blood every day. United Blood Services, the state’s largest nonprofit community blood provider, is reaching out to Hispanic community leaders to help meet this need.
Since 1970, January has been recognized as National Blood Donor Month (NBDM). To help ensure an adequate blood supply, United Blood Services has joined blood centers across the country to stress the importance of blood donation. Blood is traditionally in short supply during the winter months due to the holidays, travel schedules, inclement weather and illness. Every day in our country, approximately 39,000 units of blood are required in hospitals and emergency treatment facilities for patients with cancer and other diseases, for organ transplant recipients, and to help save the lives of accident victims. Hispanics across Arizona are encouraged to celebrate National Blood Donor Month by contacting United Blood Services to host a blood drive or to make a donation appointment.
The Hispanic community is uniquely vital to patients
The Hispanic community has a significantly higher prevalence of Type O, the universal blood type. An ample supply of Type O blood gives doctors transfusion options when shortages of other blood types arise. A person’s blood type is closely tied to his or her ethic origin. Approximately 60 percent of Hispanics typically have Type O blood, while Caucasians average just 43 percent. Because of this phenomenon, the Hispanic community can have a great positive effect by participating in the all-volunteer blood donor program. The rapidly increasing Hispanic population in the U.S. has spurred efforts on a national and state level to attract more Hispanics to donate blood.