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Wednesday
Sep182013

Michigan Blood to Host Blood & Marrow Registry Drive To Help Diversify The Blood Supply

In effort to diversify the community blood supply, Michigan Blood is hosting a blood and marrow registry drive aimed at increasing donations from African-Americans.

 

The “It Takes All Types” community-wide drive will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21 at Willie E. Thompson Middle School, 3021 Court in Saginaw. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the event sponsor, will donate $10 to the Saginaw County Sickle Cell Support Group for every person who attempts to donate.  Donors will also receive a special t-shirt as a thank you gift in recognition of the effort and September’s Sickle Cell Awareness Month.

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.

Michigan Blood, a nonprofit blood provider to more than 40 hospitals throughout Michigan, recently launched an initiative to diversity the blood supply to raise awareness about the need for African-American blood donors. While blood donations from all ethnic groups are critical, Michigan Blood has identified a specific need for African-American donors. Currently, less than two percent of African-Americans give blood. 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.

With the support of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Saginaw Public Schools and a host of local businesses, organizations, media, and churches, Michigan Blood is piloting the diversity initiative in Saginaw and plans to expand the educational campaign throughout the state. On October 12, a similar event will take place at Ottawa Hills High School in Grand Rapids.

“It is vital that the community blood supply reflect the diversity of the community,” said Tamar Chipp, public relations supervisor for Michigan Blood. “Michigan Blood is committed to saving lives by providing safe, quality blood products to our partner hospitals. Having a diverse blood supply ensures the best care for patients in need of blood transfusions,” said Chipp.

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.

Hospitals rely completely on blood donated voluntarily to organizations like Michigan Blood. In the Great Lakes Bay Region, Michigan Blood is the exclusive blood provider for Covenant HealthCare, St. Mary’s of Michigan, and MidMichigan Medical Center-Midland. 

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 sickle cell patient from Saginaw, and Dr. Carlton Jenkins, superintendent for Saginaw Public Schools.

 

Links:

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

Dr. Carlton Jenkins: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8xc6YGfzKs

Robert King: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYIf3BmC7nE

Dr. Ava Lewis: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSAVqm1M0p4

Mt. Olive Blood Drive: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydhqLqNswAw