- By donating blood through Unyts, you will be helping your family, friends and neighbors right here in Western New York.
- Donated blood is the only source for those who need it. Despite amazing discoveries and breakthroughs in medical research, there is no substitute for the contents and functions human blood provides.
- Odds are 1 in 3 that you will need blood during your lifetime but only 1 in 33 that you are a regular blood donor.
- Increasing African-American donations is vital because blood types O and B, the blood types of about 70 percent of African-Americans, are also the blood types most in demand.
- Genetically-similar blood is preferred for those who need repeated blood transfusions, and for conditions like sickle cell disease (SCD), which primarily affects African-Americans. Blood that closely matches a patient’s is less likely to be rejected by the patient and can mean fewer complications after a transfusion.
Justin is 14 years old now and despite the disease he can enjoy typical teenage activities such as listening to music and playing football. He keeps his SCD under control with folic acid, vitamins and by staying hydrated, but he always knows when he’s about to experience pain. He says it’s almost unbearable, but he usually feels better while being transfused with blood from donors. Justin’s mother and sister also have the sickle cell trait, but so far they have not experienced a crisis. Justin must cope with SCD the rest of his life. With no cure in sight he knows more blood transfusions are likely in his future.
As with any blood transfusion the patient and donor have to be a match. In Ciera’s case, it’s easier to find a match for her in the African American community because people from the same ethnic background are more like to have blood that contain similar factors and antigens. Ciera will live with sickle cell anemia the rest of her life. There is no cure for the disease and blood transfusions are a necessity in order for her to stay alive.
Terrell’s Story (Video)
Terrell Wilson said his 21st birthday was the best birthday he ever had. He posed for pictures with the Orlando Magic cheerleaders, danced with Bo Outlaw and even talked to Dwight Howard on the phone, but this once in a life time birthday party would be his last.
Doctors diagnosed Terrell with leukemia after he developed a cold and flu-like symptoms he just couldn’t shake. He relied on blood and platelets to get through chemotherapy treatment, but what Terrell really needed was a bone marrow match. He spent weeks on end in the hospital waiting on a match that never came through.
Florida’s Blood Centers Chief Medical Affairs Officer, Dr. Tisha Foster says, “In order to find the right match that the transplant can be successful they’re most likely to find a match within their own ethnicity, so it’s really important that we have a variety of ethnicities on the bone marrow registry in which to choose from for these patients.”
Terrell passed away on Christmas Day 2009, but his legacy lives on as his story continues to inspire people to donate blood and join the National Bone Marrow Registry.