Longtime Donor Regularly Hosts Girl’s Day Centered Around Giving Blood
Twannia Gay is passionate about bringing her friends and family together to help Black and African American communities. It’s what motivates her to plan a girl’s day centered around the generous act of blood donation. Every 56 days, Twannia, her sister and two friends give blood with the American Red Cross.
“I’m the one who makes all the donation appointments for everybody,” said Twannia. “We do it on a Saturday. We go have breakfast and then go give blood, go shopping and take pictures after.”
Twannia has given blood for two decades, but early on realized the importance of her donation after learning her Type O positive blood is one of the most transfused blood types. “I figured it’s the one thing I can do to give back in this life, is to help save somebody else’s life,” she said.
Blood Donors like Twannia are Helping to Save Lives
Certain blood types are more prevalent among particular ethnic groups. For instance, about half of the Black and African American population have type O blood. Type O positive blood is the most transfused blood type and type O negative is the universal blood type which can be transfused to patients of any other blood type and as is routinely in short supply.
Additionally, there are more than 600 known antigens, and these unique protein structures exist on red blood cells. The Duffy A negative and B negative antigen mix is more common among Black and African Americans. When patients with sickle cell disease receive their frequent blood transfusions to treat a pain crisis, they rely on matched blood products from the Black community who share their same red blood cell antigens to ensure a safe blood transfusion.
More Blood Donors and Blood Drive Hosts Needed
Ongoing support from blood donors and community organizations, businesses and schools in Black and African American communities is needed. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, drives held at educational institutions where most Black and African American donors give make up the largest percentage of drive cancellations this fall.
Twannia encourages other Black and African American blood donors to pay it forward and think about the likelihood of a loved one needing blood. “Look at your family that might need blood one day. Blood donation is one of the easiest ways to give back. You’re saving lives and it doesn’t take long.”
Eligible Black and African American blood donors are urged to give this September and throughout the year to help patients with sickle cell disease. Schedule an appointment to donate by using the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), or by enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.
The Red Cross is testing all blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. As part of this effort, plasma from whole blood donations that test positive for COVID-19 antibodies may be processed into a convalescent plasma product to help patients battling this virus. Now, blood donations made at any Red Cross blood drive or blood donation center may be helpful in this effort.
Blood Donation During COVID-19
Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arrival and are required to wear a face covering or mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control public guidance.
Donors can save up to 15 minutes at the blood drive by completing a RapidPass®. With RapidPass®, donors complete the pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of donation, from a mobile device or computer. To complete a RapidPass®, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App.
In most states, individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.