Xiomara developed a fever, rash and bruises doctors didn’t know
what was wrong with her until a blood test revealed something that
would change the way her family looked at blood donation.
Hispanics are the fastest growing ethnic group in the United
States accounting for an estimated 18% of the population. In some
areas, such as Kissimmee, Florida, that number can be as high as
40%. But when it comes to blood donation, statistics show
that only 4% of Hispanics donate.
The low Hispanic blood donor rates are attributed to various
factors. One of the most important ones is their unfamiliarity with
the blood collection system in the US. In Latin America, as in many
parts of the world, blood banks are rare and there’s a great
reliance on “replacement” donations done at the hospital by family
and friends. Also, many blood collection facilities are not
“Hispanic friendly” creating language and cultural barriers that
prevent them from becoming regular donors. There might also be a
‘trust” problem caused by the requirement to show a valid photo ID
in order to donate.
Misconceptions about the effects of blood donation including
gaining weight, getting infected and losing the sex drive, among
others, also contribute to their resistance to donate blood. Many
Hispanics often tend to defer themselves from donating thinking
they are too old, are taking too many medications or their diabetes
prevents them from donating. The truth is that there is no age
limit to donate, most medications are safe for donating and if the
diabetes is under control is safe to donate as well.
one night, Hispanic leaders from across Central Florida gatherFor
one night, Hispanic leaders from across Central Florida gathered at
Florida’s Blood Centers to discuss ways to increase Latino blood
donations.ed at Florida’s Blood Centers to discuss ways to increase
Latino blood donations.
While blood banks want donors of all types, type O+ blood and type
O- blood are especially valuable. O Positive is the most common
blood type, which means it’s always in demand. O Positive blood can
also be transfused into any patient whose blood is RH positive. So
anyone who is A+, B+ and AB+ can receive O+ blood. On the other
hand, O- is the so called “universal blood” because it’s the only
one that can be transfused into ANY patient regardless of the
patient’s blood type. O Negative is especially important in
emergency situations when there is not time to type the
Why is this so relevant when it comes to
Statistical data shows that nearly 60% of Latinos in the US have
type O blood (O+,O-), compared to about 45% for the rest of the
population. In fact, reports show that 71% of blood donors in
Mexico are type O, 62% in Guatemala and 54% in Venezuela, just to
name a few countries. So Hispanics are in a position to save even
more lives when they donate blood.
Equally important is the fact that many Hispanics carry a rare
antigen in their blood which could save lives needing that exact
blood. Hispanic patients with rare blood types are more likely to
find the blood they need among donors of their same ethnic
determination to beat cancer motivated him to become an advocate
for blood donations. He has given media interviews and spoken
publicly about how he could not have prevailed over leukemia
without the help of blood donors and his sister, from whom he
received a crucial bone marrow transplant.
For more information about Hispanics and blood
donation, including videos, testimonials and Wilma’s Blog, go
towww.donasangrehoy.org. This is one of the few blood bank
websites with original content in Spanish.