Diversify The Blood Supply Home » About Blood » Blood Education » Diversify The Blood Supply African-Americans make up 17 percent of the population within our area (Greenville, Spartanburg, Union, Cherokee, Pickens, Oconee, Laurens, Greenwood, McCormick, and Newberry counties in SC, Stephens County in GA and Henderson, Polk, and Rutherford Counties in NC); however, only 7.5% donate blood. Consider this: Every two seconds someone needs blood. The Blood Connection routinely needs blood types O and B; the types most commonly found among African-Americans. The Blood Connection must collect over 500 units of blood per day to meet the needs of the hospitals it serves. Giving blood is safe, simple, and the process takes less than one hour. Actual donation time is only about 10 minutes, and the body quickly replaces the blood donated. One blood donation gives up to three people a fighting chance at life. Why is my donation important? There are some rare blood antigens unique to African-Americans, and it’s difficult to find compatible blood types for some patients. Often the best match is blood that comes from another African-American donor. African-Americans with sickle cell, cancer, and kidney disease are less likely to have reactions to blood donated by other African-Americans. Why don’t we give regularly? Some African-Americans are routine blood donors. However, there are many more who are able to donate, but do not. Often myths and fear prevent African-Americans from donating blood. Common fears include: I might get AIDS. I need all of my blood. I have bad blood. I don’t like needles. It takes too long. I have “sugar” diabetes. I have high blood pressure. What is sickle cell disease? Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder that causes the red blood cells to become sickle shaped, preventing the cells from circulating to parts of the body. The disease results in anemia (low hemoglobin level), and increased incidences of infections and strokes. Sickle cell disease occurs in approximately 1 in 500 African-American births. Sickle cell trait occurs in approximately 1 in 12 African-Americans. Those with the sickle cell trait can be blood donors, but those who have the disease cannot. What are the basic requirements to donate blood? You must be 17 years old (16 with written parental consent), and weigh at least 110 pounds. Help can I help my community! The Blood Connection has an ongoing interest in helping African-Americans with sickle cell anemia or any other debilitating disease. If you are not a donor, please consider becoming one. Schedule regular blood drives at your church, school, professional organization, or civic group. With your help, we can make a difference in patients’ lives. For more information about blood drives or diversifying the blood supply, contact Sherra Guess at 864.751.3049. To learn more about how your donations help others in our community, visit our testimonial page and read about Precious Gamble, Larry Eaddy, James Williams and Nannie Pickens.