During Black Maternal Health Week, April 11- 17, the American Red Cross recognizes the need to raise further awareness about maternal health in the Black community and the impact of blood transfusions for mothers in crisis.
In the US, approximately 700 women die each year as a result of pregnancy complications according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world. What’s even more alarming is that Black mothers are 2.5 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related issues than white women.
One of the most common reasons for maternal morbidity is due to severe hemorrhaging or bleeding that can occur anytime during pregnancy. In instances of severe bleeding, blood transfusions often play a lifesaving role. In fact, according to medical experts, blood transfusion is an essential component of emergency obstetric care and appropriate blood transfusion significantly reduces maternal mortality. The Red Cross remains committed to ensuring blood products are available on hospital shelves for Black mothers experiencing childbirth emergencies.
Patty Mace, Vicksburg, MS, knows first-hand the importance of blood transfusions after experiencing complications while giving birth to her first child. During labor Ms. Mace needed emergency surgery and lost a significant amount of blood requiring multiple blood transfusions to help her recover.
“Had I not received the blood transfusions, I would not have had the opportunity to meet my first-born child face to face,” said Mace.
Blood transfusions are unlike other standard medical treatments since blood cannot be manufactured in a lab and the only source of blood comes from blood donors. In addition, blood products have a short shelf-life which means that the blood supply must constantly be replenished.
In times of an emergency, it’s the blood already on the shelves that helps patients in need. While there is a constant need for all blood types, the demand for O blood types is often the highest because it is the most transfused. Donations from the Black community are vital in meeting this constant need because more than half of Black individuals have type O (positive or negative) blood.
As the nation enters a new phase in the pandemic, the Red Cross reminds the public that blood donations remain essential for patients in need—including moms. Eligible individuals who are feeling well, are urged to make an appointment to give today by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, downloading the Blood Donor App or calling 1-800-RED CROSS.
Those who come to give with the Red Cross now through April 30 will be entered for a chance to win a $1,000 e-gift card.
Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control. To ensure the health of staff and donors, we have implemented additional safety protocols including —
- Temperature checks for both staff and donors prior to entering a blood drive or donation center;
- Face masks required for everyone;
- Available hand sanitizer throughout the donation process; and
- Social distancing wherever possible.
Individuals are encouraged to make an appointment in advance to help the Red Cross best manage the flow of donors.