Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Black Blood

barely skimming the surface...

Last week, the story of
6-year old Jasmina Anema was made public. She was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. The only thing that can save her life is a bone marrow transplant. The best match would be a family member. But Jasmina Anema is adopted; she has no known siblings and her adopted family is white. Jasmina is Black; a member of a grossly underrepresented population in blood banks and on donor lists.

Blood types O and B are the most common (and highly demanded) blood types and found in Blacks. Many rare blood types are also found in our gene pool. Blood and tissue types are inherited so the best matches are found in families or similar racial groups. Blood transfusions are necessary for more conditions/injuries/diseases than you may realize. And many of those circumstances affect African-Americans at a greater rate. Sickle Cell, cancer, premature births and unnatural causes like car accidents and critical gunshot wounds (trauma patients). 

On an anthropological level, Blacks are the mother of civilization. All other man came from us. It makes sense that our blood would be the life-giving source. There’s this great resurgence of Black pride; throw on your dashikis and cowry shells, give your children African names and greet one another in Swahili, but what else are you doing to ensure our people survive and thrive in future generations? There’s still an underlying distrust of doctors (I use that term broadly) by the African-American community due to the long documented history of medical experimentation and torture (Tuskegee, PolyHeme, Carver Village) we’ve undergone. But this unwillingness to be blood (or bone marrow) donors will be to our detriment.

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