Historical events and perceptions have fostered mistrust of the medical community among African Americans, which extends to blood donation. African American blood donation rates have been 25-50% lower than that of the white individuals over the last decade. Although this issue has been repeatedly identified, efforts to address the underlying causes of this disparity have not been examined holistically.
Sickle cell disease (SCD) continues to disproportionally impact the African American community occurring in about 1 out of every 365 births (1 in 13 African American babies are born with the sickle cell trait). Although the transfusion needs of patients with sickle cell disease can be met by blood donors of any ethnicity, the best blood product match is from a phenotype-matched donor of the same ethnic group. When there is increased inventory of blood from African American donors, there is a greater likelihood that a phenotype match will be found. Tackling this important issue requires education and guidance to blood collectors to assist them with developing culturally appropriate and compelling community engagement, recruiting, educational materials and an understanding of the need to reach people where they live.
Dr. Yvette Miller, American Red Cross Opening Overview
Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick, President, Howard University Unique perspective of an individual living with SCD.
Dr. Kim Smith-Whitley, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Unique challenges of treating children who live with SCD from a transfusion and blood supply perspective.
Dr. Carla Williams, Howard University Discuss identifying engagement strategies for various communities.