Why Does Matching Matter
While rare blood types exist in every population, the challenge is finding a perfect match for patients. Most blood types fall into one of the four major groups: A, B, AB, O, but for patients with rare blood types, we need a more diverse blood supply to ensure the best possible care in our local hospitals. That’s why checking your race at registration is important.
Like the color of your eyes and hair, blood type is also inherited! For example, African-Americans and other minority groups may have rare blood types that are specific to their race, ethnicity or genetic background. The best blood type match for patients with rare blood types often comes from donors of a similar race or ethnicity. By diversifying the blood supply, we can instill hope and save more lives!
What Is Sickle Cell Disease?
Blood donors play a crucial role in Sickle Cell Disease treatment. Sickle Cell Disease is a genetically inherited blood disorder that affects approximately 100,000 people in the United States, 98% of which are of African descent. Although it is most commonly found in African-Americans and Hispanics, it affects people from the Middle East, Mediterranean nations and more. Sickle Cell hemoglobin distorts the red blood cell shape to a “sickle” when exposed to low levels of oxygen. The distorted cells become stiff, sticky, and hard. The “sickled cells” clog blood vessels, block oxygen flow and damage vital organs, often causing severe pain, inflammation or stroke. Regular blood transfusions are often required to treat or prevent sickle-cell related complications. A single patient with Sickle Cell Disease can receive up to 100 pints of blood or more each year to continue living with the disease. The best match for sickle cell patients in need of regular transfusions will likely come from a blood donor of the same ancestry background.