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Make Every Drop Count

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Chicago In conjunction with Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, the Illinois Coalition of Community Blood Centers (ICCBC) joined forces with the states’ top African American leaders and medical experts today at Mercy Hospital, to kick off their “Make Every Drop Count” campaign, aimed at increasing blood donations among the state’s African American population.

Unfortunately rare blood traits and certain diseases such as sickle cell anemia, hypertension, lupus and prostate cancer are more prevalent among African Americans.

“The impact of these illnesses can often lead to treatments which require frequent blood transfusions and the most reaction free match but yet least available, would be that of another African American.  This type of match is extremely limited due to the fact that nationally, African Americans donate less than 1% of the country’s blood supply. ICCBC is extremely grateful to everyone that is joining us today to help us turn that trend around in order to improve the quality of and lengthen the lives of so many individuals”,  said

Ann McKanna of Heartland Blood Centers and ICCBC President.

Dr. Sally Campbell-Lee, Director of Transfusion Medicine for the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System, explained why compatibility is so important.  “Many sickle cell patients need monthly transfusions. However, the more often someone is transfused, the more likely it is their immune system can cause a reaction against the donor’s red blood cells.  These reactions are prevented by extended matching of the patient’s blood type with the donor’s blood type.  Just as with a bone marrow or other organ transplant, the best matches in these situations are often found from donors who are of the same ethnic group as the patient.  This means for most sickle cell patients, their best transfusion matches are found among African American donors.  African American blood donors have a tremendous impact, especially for patients who are from their community.”

“Because African American blood traits are such a “tough match” when it comes to transfusions, it is important that we, as public officials, are able to get the message out that by not donating blood, we as African Americans, are putting each other at risk. With the start of 2012, I ask that becoming a regular blood donor is a New Year’s Resolution you stick with, in order to save lives in our community,”   said Congressman Davis, of the 7th Congressional District.

State Representative Will Davis (D-Homewood) explained how becoming a ‘regular donor’ is key because blood has a shelf life of only 42 days.  “As Chairman of the Illinois General Assembly’s Black Caucus, I feel the ‘Make Every Drop Count’ campaign is a great opportunity for we, as legislators, to spread the message across our state to not only donate blood but to help coordinate a drive in your community” said Davis.

Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., is another partner of the Make Every Drop Count Campaign.”   “Kappa Alpha Psi was honored to be asked by the Illinois Coalition of Community Blood Centers to join forces with them to help spread the word, among both our student members and alumni, across the Midwest on the important need for African American blood donation.  We need to do all we can to not only increase donations but also educate people on why they are needed,” said Darren Adams, Board of Directors of the North Central Province.

ICCBC and the Black Caucus are planning another press conference at the Statehouse in Springfield on February 8th, in conjunction with African American History month.

Individuals can donate blood every 56 days.  Donors must be 17 years of age (16 with parental consent) and weigh at least 110 pounds.

If you would like to “Make Every Drop Count” please call 1-800-7TO-GIVE (786-4483) or visit Heartland Blood Centers at www.heartlandbc.org to donate blood locally or help coordinate a drive.

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ABOUT Illinois Coalition of Community Blood Centers. Founded in 2002, ICCBC is a statewide organization made up of not-for-profit blood centers, whose mission is to increase awareness of the importance of volunteer blood donation, through public education and advocacy. To learn more go to www.illinoisbloodcenters.com.