‘We all bleed red’
Ever heard that saying?
It’s a phrase often used to counter racism, saying we all bleed red so basically – we are all the same on the inside.
Now while human blood is the colour red, we do have genetic differences which tend to vary according to our ethnic background. So while it is perfectly possible for a white person to be a blood type match to a black person and vice versa, the chances of a match are higher when donors and recipients are from the same ethnic background.
So why do we need more black donors?
Blood can be divided into groups.
Your blood group is determined by your parents.
Some patients who need regular transfusions need blood that is closely matched to their own blood. The best match typically comes from donors who have the same ethnic background.
Around 15,000 people in the UK have sickle cell – a disease common in people of African and Caribbean heritage (90% African in the UK). People with sickle cell often need regular blood transfusions to survive.
Black people are more likely to have the rare blood types like Ro, O Rh positive and B Rh positive that people with sickle cell need. Some rare blood types are only found in the black and Asian communities.
Currently in England, only 1% of blood donors are black.
So that’s why.
We need more black blood donors in order to treat patients as well as we can.
Having sickle cell trait doesn’t mean you can’t give blood!
Do you donate blood?