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Versiti Receives $150,000 Grant from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation

Milwaukee – March 1, 2022

Three-year grant focused on increasing blood donations from members of diverse communities

Versiti today announced that it has been awarded a $150,000 grant from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. The three-year grant will support the organization's focus on addressing healthcare disparities in Milwaukee neighborhoods through advocacy and community outreach to increase diversity in blood donation.

“As a national leader in blood health innovation, Versiti works to reach all communities to ensure that hospital patients always have access to the best possible match for their blood type,” said Chris Miskel, president and CEO of Versiti. “We are grateful for the support of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation because, at the end of the day, a more ethnically diverse blood supply will save more lives.”

Every day, more than 10,000 patients—from those undergoing long-term transfusion treatments to accident victims—rely on the generosity of blood donors to survive.

The percentage of ethnically diverse patients who need rare blood continues to increase. Yet, ethnically diverse blood donors continue to be a very small part of the overall blood donor population nationwide. Of the entire U.S. population, only five percent donate blood. An even smaller fraction has a blood type called Ro, which is particularly beneficial for patients with sickle cell disease.

Sickle Cell Disease Facts:

  • Sickle cell disease affects approximately 100,000 Americans.
  • Sickle cell disease occurs in 1 in every 365 African American births.
  • Sickle cell disease occurs 1 in every 16,300 Hispanic American births.
  • About 1 in every 13 African American babies is born with sickle cell trait.

A disease that disproportionately impacts African American and Hispanic communities, patients often require regular blood transfusions of the Ro blood type. 

Most commonly found in the African American and Hispanic communities, the Ro blood type is extremely rare, only coming from four percent of all Versiti donors. Patients with conditions like sickle cell disease are more likely to find a match and less likely to have physical reactions to blood donated by donors of the same ethnic background.

Ro blood cannot be manufactured; it cannot be created in a lab. It is only available as the result of people with large hearts that give of themselves to support their neighbors and friends. 

To learn more visit Versiti.org or call 1-877-BE-A-HERO (1-877-232-4376) to make an appointment to donate today. 



Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin is a not-for-profit organization headquartered in Milwaukee that specializes in blood services, esoteric diagnostic testing, organ, tissue and stem cell donation, medical services and leading-edge research. We advance patient care by delivering lifesaving products and services. For more information, visit versiti.org/WI.

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