HOUSTON (KIAH) – As blood shortages continue in Texas, the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is urging the Hispanic community to donate. The organization says the Hispanic community is crucial in helping build a diverse blood supply.
“Our donors just aren’t represented diversity wise, and we really need our Hispanic donors to step up and really take part in donating,” said Sarah Goodman, manager of donor recruitment at the Blood Center.
Goodman reports about 60% of their donors are Caucasian and only 20% are Hispanic.
Houston has one of the nation’s largest Hispanic populations. More than 2.7 million Hispanics call Houston home according to the Great Houston Partnership.
The American Red Cross found that nearly 60% of the Hispanic population has the universal Type O blood, which hospitals most frequently request to treat a range of patients, from trauma victims to premature babies.
Having a diverse blood supply is even more important because patients are more likely to find a blood match among donors who share the same demographics.
Ezra Chavez, 6, still relies on blood donations for his treatment. At just 3 years old, Ezra was diagnosed with Pre-B Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and is undergoing chemotherapy to treat his disease. Ezra has had two blood transfusions since the start of treatment in 2019 and hopes to ring the bell and be cancer free soon. Blood donors keep this loving, caring, and spontaneous boy smiling.
“Making sure that we are diversifying our blood supply to make sure that they have that special antigen that maybe someone who isn’t of their background won’t have. And, it’s really important that we’re able to provide all kinds of blood to our patients because they’re going to need it one way or the other,” said Goodman.
The blood center shared they need about 1,000 units every single day to maintain the supply in the Houston area. Currently, they have below that daily target level. They note a lot of people don’t realize that the shelf life of blood is only 42 days, so they need repeat donors.