By Mimi Teller/American Red Cross
Settling in for her blood donation, Diana Pineda was a little sheepish about the event. Despite having worked for the American Red Cross for four years, including nine months as the biomedical volunteer workforce supervisor supporting blood donor ambassadors, Pineda had never donated blood before. As the newly appointed Executive Director for the Red Cross San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys Chapter, Pineda felt it was finally time to walk the walk.
“My mom always told me not to donate” said Pineda. “She said I would get sick if I gave blood. It’s myths like these and many others that seem to keep people from the Latino community from donating lifesaving blood.”
Donating blood is never the reason someone may get sick and if anything, it saves lives. For every 7 hospital patients one of them will need a blood transfusion — whether it’s for an organ transplant, a traumatic injury, childbirth complications, cancer treatment or a blood disorder like sickle cell disease; having a robust blood supply on the shelf is critical.
Donations from people in the Latino community are especially important in the treatment of trauma patients and others needing emergency blood transfusions because more than half of all Hispanics/Latinos in the U.S. have type O blood. Type O blood is most often in critical supply as it is most often needed by hospitals. In fact, type O negative blood can be transfused to patients with any blood type and is what hospital staff reach for during emergencies when there isn’t time to determine a patient’s blood type, making O positive and O negative blood types often the first to reach emergency levels during blood shortages.