African Americans, Latinos Likely to Have Critically Needed Blood Type

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LaDeodra Drummond donates blood at the Rayburn Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., in June 2017. About half of all African Americans half type O blood, considered a universal type because it can be given to anyone regardless of that person's blood type. Photo by Jeanette Ortiz-Osorio/American Red Cross

LaDeodra Drummond donates blood at the Rayburn Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., in June 2017. About half of all African Americans half type O blood, considered a universal type because it can be given to anyone regardless of that person’s blood type. Photo by Jeanette Ortiz-Osorio/American Red Cross

About half of all African Americans and more than half the Latino population in the United States have type O blood, which the American Red Cross said is in critical shortage nationwide, including Onondaga and central New York counties.

Type O positive blood is the most transfused blood type.  Type O negative is the universal blood type and can be transfused to patients of any other blood type. Because of its versatility, it is routinely in short supply.

“Blood type, like eye color, is an inherited trait passed genetically to us from our parents,” said Patty Corvaia, communications manager for the American Red Cross New York-Penn Blood Services Region. “Having a readily available and diverse blood supply is important to meeting the medical needs of all patients. That’s why the American Red Cross encourages eligible blood donors of all races and ethnicities to give blood.”

The American Red Cross is the primary supplier of blood for all the hospitals in central New York. Hospitals in Crouse Health and Upstate Medical Center systems receive blood from the Red  Cross. There is less than a two-day supply of type O available for emergency rooms, where it’s used when hospital staff doesn’t have time to determine a patient’s blood type.

Nationally, the Red Cross collected approximately 11,500 fewer type O blood donations than needed to sustain a sufficient blood supply. Spring break schedules and the end of the school year for colleges and high schools mean fewer blood drives, so fewer units of all blood types are collected.

Through June 10, donors will receive a $5 Amazon.com gift card via email.

Donors can make an appointment by calling  (800) REDCROSS. Blood drives can be found by going to  RedCrossBlood.org and entering your ZIP code.