Give Life in the New Year

Dr. Jillian Morgan | January 10th, 2014
Dr. Jillian Morgan

Dr. Jillian Morgan

Imagine someone you love has been involved in a serious car accident and is in desperate need of blood. However, with their life on the line, they can’t find a match.

For so many Americans, especially African-Americans, this exact scenario could be a harsh reality. But this does not have to be… if each of us would just donate one pint of blood.

Happy New Year! January is National Blood Donor Month. Let’s start this New Year off by saving a life. Give Life in the New Year. As you reflect on all the material gifts you gave and received this holiday, I urge you to give one more meaningful gift…the gift of life.

There are many more circumstances, in addition to automobile accidents, that warrant an individual’s need for donated blood such as natural disasters and unexpected emergencies, like Hurricane Katrina and most recently, the Boston Marathon bombings. Blood transfusions are often necessary for cancer patients as well. More than 1.6 million people were diagnosed with cancer last year. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment. 1 pint of donated blood can save up to 3 lives!

For many individuals, blood transfusions are needed on a regular basis to sustain their life. In fact, an individual with Sickle Cell Disease may need 15 to 25 blood transfusions each year. Sickle cell disease is the most common genetic disorder in the African-American community. The best matches for these sickle cell patients that require frequent blood transfusions are blood donations from other African-Americans.
Sadly, only around 1% of the Black community donates blood. This means that donated blood might not always be available when African-Americans need it. Increasing African-American donations is imperative because blood types O and B, the blood types of about 70% of African-Americans, are the blood types most in out of every 10 people admitted to the hospital needs blood!

The American Red Cross is the largest single supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. They collect more than 40% of the US blood supply and distribute it to nearly 3,000 hospitals and transfusion centers nationwide. The American Red Cross blood program started in 1940, under the leadership of Dr. Charles Drew. Dr. Drew, an African-American physician, developed the first system for storing blood. He established the world’s first blood drive and in 1941 started the National Blood Donor Service for the American Red Cross.

Red Cross statistics show that 45% of people in the U.S. have Type O blood. This percentage is even higher among African-Americans at 51%. For that reason, a shortage in Type O blood would greatly affect our communities. This is why it is hugely important that African-Americans donate blood in an effort to save our own lives. More than 41,000 blood donations are needed every day to maintain an adequate US blood supply!

The entire donation process takes about one hour. The actual blood draw takes only a few minutes. So, in just one hour you could save 3 lives! Did you know… that it only takes 24 hours for your body to replace the plasma that you donate?
Just 24 hours. So this New Year, I urge you to give the gift of life. Take one hour out of your day and donate one pint of blood. Give Life in the New Year!

For more information about donating blood and to find a blood drive in your community please visit

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