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Thursday
Oct032013

Michigan Blood to Host Fun, Free, Family Event to Diversify the Blood Supply and Bone Marrow Registry

“I’ll be There” … to save a life to be held October 12 at Ottawa Hills High School

 

Michigan Blood has joined forces with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the Grand Rapids African American Health Institute, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, the Kent County, Kalamazoo-Muskegon Michigan National Black Nurses Association (KMMNBNA), and faith-based organizations throughout greater Grand Rapids to launch an initiative to diversify the blood supply and National Marrow Donor Program’s Be the Match Registry®. On Saturday, October 12, 2013 (9 am – 3 pm), the collaborative partners will host “I’ll be There,” a community event to be held at Ottawa Hills High School (2055 Rosewood Avenue, Grand Rapids).  The event will include a blood drive, bone marrow registry drive, free health screenings, food, entertainment, children’s activities, contests and prizes. Those who attempt to donate will receive a special t-shirt as a thank you gift.”

“The goal of this event,” notes Meredith Gremel, Director of Public Relations and Marketing for Michigan Blood, “is to share with the community how important it is to diversify the blood supply and bone marrow registry. While blood donations from all ethnic groups are critical, there is a specific need for African-American donors. Currently, less than two percent of African-Americans give blood, and only 7% of the Be the Match Registry is comrpirsed of potential African American bone marrow donors. For patients in need of regular blood transfusions who suffer from illnesses like sickle cell or cancer, the best blood match will likely come from a donor of the same ethnic background. “    

Families are encouraged to attend the The “I’ll be There” community-wide drive and invite friends as well. In addition to the blood and marrow registry drive, the event will feature a health expo that will include various health screenings, demonstrations, information, and entertainment.

To participate in the blood drive, donors can visit www.miblood.org or call 1-866-MIBLOOD to schedule an appointment. Walk-ins are welcome. Any healthy person 17 or older (or 16 with parental consent) who weighs at least 110 pounds may be eligible to give blood every 56 days. Blood donors should bring photo ID (or two forms of non-photo ID).

To join the National Marrow Donor Program’s Be the Match Registry, registrants must be between the ages of 18 and 44. The process includes filling out a health questionnaire and providing a cheek swab. The total cost to add a new member to the Registry is about $100. Michigan Blood fundraises throughout the year to offset the cost of tissue testing necessary for registration. Most often, a majority of these costs are covered and new registry members are asked to contribute only $25. Because of the need to diversify the Registry, those of diverse ethnic backgrounds are able to join at no cost with the help of federal funding. For more information, potential registrants can contact Ryan Heinhuis at (616) 233-8676 or by email at rheinhuis@miblood.org.

To view more information about Michigan Blood’s diversity initiative, visit www.miblood.org/diversity. The following video links also feature supporters of the initiative including Tanjanika Taylor, a young, sickle cell patient.

Links:

Tanjanika Taylor’s Story: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4xaPUUAbP8

Ed Davis, 11 gallon blood donor:  https://vimeo.com/75204773

David Luna, Vice President of Multicultural Affairs, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, https://vimeo.com/75204774