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Mariah Roberts and her dad Chris

Advocates for Diversity in Blood Donation

We are committed to collecting blood from donors of all ethnicities. Your blood donations help save more lives.

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Versiti advocates for diversity in blood, organ and tissue, and bone marrow and stem cell donations.
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Increasing blood donations from members of diverse communities is essential to serving patients of every ethnicity.

Why is an ethnically diverse blood supply important?

Matching matters. Collecting blood from donors of all ethnicities and backgrounds ensures that hospital patients in our communities always have access to the best possible match for their individual blood type when they need it most.

Blood from a donor of a similar ethnic background is less likely to be rejected by the patient and often results in fewer complications after a transfusion.

In short, a more ethnically diverse blood supply will save more lives."

Learn More About Blood Donation

Donor Disparity and the Need for Diverse Donors

Versiti acknowledges that a distrust of the American health care system – for valid historical reasons – has made it challenging to recruit minority blood donors. Shameful incidences of systemic racism and discrimination such as the infamous Tuskegee Study and the treatment of Henrietta Lacks, as well as disparities in health outcomes among different ethnicities, have understandably contributed to many minorities’ uncertainty around blood donation and an unwillingness to donate. Blood banks, too, have often failed to address the concerns and assuage the fears of these potential donors.

Overall, 38% of the general population in the U.S. are eligible to donate blood, but less than 10% do so annually, and these donors are disproportionately white. According to a 2011 study from Emory University, only 16% of Black individuals donate blood.

Donor population by ethnicity and blood type chart

Versiti donor population by diversity.

Versiti invites donors of all ethnicities to donate their lifesaving blood. The more units of blood on hand from diverse donors, the more patients we are able to serve.

Rare Blood Initiatives

Did you know that besides the familiar A, B, AB and O blood groups, there are more than 30 other blood groups containing different proteins and antigens? Some of these rare blood types - like Ro – are only found in certain patient populations.

The incredibly rare Ro blood type is found in only 4% of our donors – but is crucial for the many sickle cell disease patients who rely on frequent transfusions of this matched blood and who are predominantly of African descent. Learn about our Ro Blood Type Donor Program.

Sickle cell patients may require chronic blood transfusions to treat their disease, and many feel the most healthy after they receive blood. Since 44% of African Americans have Ro blood, providing matched Ro blood to sickle cell patients may provide a safer blood transfusion and additional benefits.

Versiti has received awards from the American Rare Donor Program for providing the greatest number of rare blood units. With the combined expertise of Versiti blood centers, we possess an unrivaled ability to comprehensively support more than 10 different sickle cell disease programs across the United States.

Expertise and Commitment

Sickle Cell Disease Research

Increasing the proportion of diverse blood donations is essential to reducing blood transfusion complications, particularly in individuals with sickle cell disease (SCD) and thalassemia.

A Versiti Blood Research Institute team led by Joshua Field, MD, MS, Senior Investigator, conducts a variety of clinical research in SCD for both adult and pediatric patients, helping to diagnose and treat the disease.

1 out of every 356 African-American children are born with sickle cell disease.

The Adult Sickle Cell Clinic, located at Froedtert Hospital, is the only one of its kind in Wisconsin. Established in 2011, it provides comprehensive care for adult patients with SCD, including blood transfusions, pain management, preventative treatment and other therapies.

The Sickle Cell Center at Children’s Wisconsin provides a comprehensive care model for roughly 400 children with SCD each year. It offers both inpatient and outpatient treatment, and healthcare providers and scientists from seven departments at the Medical College of Wisconsin participate in research activities.

1 out of every 16,000 Hispanic-American children are born with sickle cell disease.

New Treatments for Sickle Cell Disease

Research and Discovery Around Iron Deficiency

Anemia is the most common blood disorder in the United States. It affects your red blood cells and hemoglobin, which is the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. You need iron in order to make hemoglobin. Most people who have anemia have a shortage of iron, or iron deficiency anemia. The prevalence of iron deficiency anemia is 2% in adult men, 9-12% in non-Hispanic white women, and nearly 20% in black and Mexican-American women.

A Versiti Blood Research Institute team led by Alan E. Mast, MD, PhD, Senior Investigator, participates in the National Institutes of Health’s REDS (Recipient Epidemiology and Donor Evaluation Study) program. Its previous findings have advanced knowledge on blood donors and recipients, including iron levels in donors.

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Download These Informative Rare Blood Sheets:

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