Give life during Black History Month

February 10, 2009

University Park, Pa. -- For the sixth year in a row, the American Red Cross and Penn State student sponsor groups will host the annual Charles Drew Blood Donation Campaign (CDBDC) during Black History Month. This special blood drive will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 12-13 in Alumni Hall of the HUB-Robeson Center, at the University Park campus. The drive is geared towards non-Caucasian students, faculty and staff on Penn State’s campus, however everyone is welcome to donate. The goal of the campaign is to educate and recruit individuals to become regular blood donors throughout their lives.

This year’s campaign is organized by the Student National Medical Association and the Student Red Cross Club. Sponsor groups include Alpha Kappa Alpha, Alpha Nu Omega, Alpha Phi Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Omega Psi Phi, Phi Beta Sigma, and S-Plan. The CDBDC is named in honor and loving memory of Charles Drew, an African American surgeon and pioneer in blood collection and plasma processing.

At this year’s CDBDC, the Red Cross will continue its effort to diversify the blood supply and make rare blood types unique to non-Caucasian communities available. While minorities make up an ever increasing percentage of the U.S. population, they account for a very small percent of the nation’s blood donors. As a result, minority patients may find it very difficult to find matching blood types. Diversity in the blood supply is crucial because the best chance for finding compatible blood for patients is from someone of their own ethnic background. The percentages of the different blood groups differ between ethnic groups. For example, 60 percent of the Hispanic population has type O blood. Demand is greatest for type O blood especially type O negative, the universal donor. Some blood types are unique to the black community, such as U-negative and Duffy-negative. Still, others are simply more common in the black community than in others like type B.

In a similar effort, the Red Cross will be holding three bone marrow registries in February. Students will have the opportunity to join the National Marrow Donor Program free of charge. Bone marrow transplants may be the only cure for certain life threatening diseases such as leukemia. Minority registrants are desperately needed. Patients needing a bone marrow transplant are much more likely to match someone with their ethnic/ racial background. Caucasians in the registry outnumber Blacks, Asians, Hispanics and Native Americans by anywhere from 5:1 to 10:1.

Entry into the national bone marrow registry is a simple cheek swab. HLA (Human leukocyte antigens) are then extracted, identified, and entered into the registry.  Daily the registry is checked against the thousands of people needing a transplant.  For more information about the registry, visit Registration into the National Marrow Donor Program will occur during the CDBDC drive and from noon to 5 p.m., Feb. 21 at the IM Building in Gym 3. Donating blood takes only about an hour; entering the registry, about fifteen minutes. Eligible donors are encouraged to choose the first option to help diversify and increase our local blood supply.

For more information on blood donations, scheduling appointments and blood donor requirements, please visit or call 1-800-54-BLOOD.


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Last Updated March 19, 2009