The global COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of a sustainable blood supply like never before in recent memory. The public health measures needed to keep the rate of COVID-19 infections from spreading had the unfortunate consequence of decreasing the availability of blood donation appointments, which led to large decreases in available blood supply around the world. Still, patients that have diseases or require surgery continue to need transfusion support. In this context, the importance of understanding what motivates people of all backgrounds to donate blood is as important as ever.
In the article by Klinkenberg et al.1, the authors in the Netherlands studied people of African descent to learn what were the current motivators and barriers to blood donation. The authors reflected on the need to have a diverse representation of the blood donor pool to mirror the diverse nature of the patient population that receives blood products. The blood groups are defined by genes that are linked to a person’s ancestry. For patients of African descent who have Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) and need red blood cell (RBC) transfusion, red cell alloimmunisation is a known negative side effect of RBC transfusion2. Therefore, guidelines have been developed that recommend using antigen matched RBCs3,4. To be able to support the transfusion needs, the blood supply should be drawn from people of different ancestral backgrounds so that the patient extended antigen matched blood needs can be adequately met. Scientifically, antigen matching for patients with SCD is challenging due to the number of negative blood group antigens; up to 41% of patients have 6 or more negative antigens5. [ … ]
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