Contributions, Sacrifices and Achievements
February is Black History Month, and Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is honoring the achievements and remarkable contributions of Black Americans in our community. Each year, we strive to honor the legacy of Dr. Charles Drew, the father of blood banking and a pioneer in blood storage techniques, as we encourage our community to keep his legacy alive by donating blood.
Dating back to the early 1930s, Dr. Drew was the first African American to earn a Doctor of Medical Science degree from Columbia University. His research and development on collecting and storing plasma would be used in the nation's first blood banks and bloodmobiles. Dr. Drew found that when he separated plasma from a whole blood donation, he could store or "bank" it longer. He also found that plasma can be distributed to anyone regardless of blood type. Many of his processes are still used today.
As we look back at the incredible contributions of Dr. Drew, we as a community can continue the legacy and make an impact on society by donating blood. A more diverse blood supply is crucial to our healthcare system by providing the best health outcomes with the least potential complications to patients in need. Rare and uncommon blood types are often found in similar ethnic populations, and a compatible donor is usually someone of a similar ethnic background.
"Most transfusions with voluntarily donated blood align with patient care; matching does matter," said Marc Lewis, Vice President of Operations at Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center. "Blood types are inherited, and compatible blood types are often needed to ensure positive clinical outcomes. Sickle cell anemia is common among African Americans and the only therapy to treat the disease is blood donated by African Americans," said Lewis.
Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is one of the largest community blood centers in the United States, serving 26 counties across the Texas Gulf Coast, Brazos Valley, and East Texas. We serve more than 170 hospitals and healthcare institutions, including the largest medical center in the world, Texas Medical Center, where the need for blood is constant. Our community relies on blood donors to help supply area hospitals with the blood they need to treat patients.
Donating blood is easy and can be done once every 56 days. A typical whole blood donation takes about an hour and saves many lives. Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is asking our community to donate more frequently and make giving blood a part of their routine as a way of giving back – One-hour changes everything!
"Being African American growing up in such a diverse community all my life, I never viewed that something simple like blood or who donated blood really mattered. But working most of my career and having a close family encounter needing a blood transfusion changed that perspective. I urge my fellow African American community to take one hour to change someone's life," Lewis stated.
Dr. Drew saved countless lives through his work. Take time to honor him and his work during Black History Month. And we challenge you to keep his legacy alive by donating blood. For more information or to find a location to donate, please visit giveblood.org.
Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is the sole provider of blood and blood components 24/7 to more than 170 hospitals and health care facilities in a 26-county Texas Gulf Coast region. Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is a nonprofit organization and is accredited by the Food and Drug Administration.