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Annual Hispanic Heritage Month Blood Drive ushers donations and awareness to the community

By Camille Ray

Nov. 3, 2022 4:00 p.m.

While Hispanics are among the country’s fastest-growing population, only a small percentage donate blood. Amid disconcerting myths, cultural discrepancies, and historical discrimination, Hispanic people are constantly being dissuaded from appearing at blood banks.

Even though all types of blood are essential to ensure ample blood transfusion supply, Type O-positive blood is precious. As the most common blood type and due to its universal compatibility with other blood types, blood banks make a concerted effort to recruit these donors. However, with the anticipated imbalance of population shifts, more demand for Type O transfusions means a greater demand for compatible blood donors. 

Around 45 percent of the general U.S. population has Type O positive blood, with around half of that group being Latinx. By encouraging more Latinx people to donate, blood banks tap into highly underutilized sources of a blood type that not only reaches their community but everyone else who faces a blood-related emergency. 

On the heels of Hispanic Heritage Awareness month, Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, the UCLA Chicanx/Latinx Living Learning Community (LLC) partnered with the Blood and Platelet Center  to host a variety of collaborative events on campus. 

Of the LLC event volunteers include fourth-year residential assistant Ariadna Guerrero, who hopes these events show members of her community the importance their blood donations have on the UCLA community as a whole. Attributing the lack of Hispanic blood donors primarily to misconceptions and an overall cultural disregard for mental health issues, Guerrero notes the importance of education surrounding new involvement in the health sector of UCLA. 

“There are a lot of different ideas my community has on health,” Guerrero said. “Whether that be mental, emotional, or physical, we tend to neglect health issues until it gets so bad that we’re forced to have to worry. And then it’s like, ‘why didn’t we take preventative measures?’ I’ve seen it in my personal family and don’t want to see those patterns continue in school. We’re all going through it independently, so in hosting this event, I thought, ‘Why not do it together and share this moment where we can change our perspective?’”

Apart from educating people about standard health negligence practices, the Blood and Platelet Center is also dedicated to Chicanx/Latinx community upliftment. These two weeks aimed to debunk both misconceptions and create pride in involvement through various planned activities. 

On October 13th, the Blood and Platelet Center hosted a Latinx wellness event that promoted and encouraged participants to donate blood and ensure self-health remains a priority despite being away from home. Guerrero noted that by providing Latinx community members are made aware of the positive impacts of well-kept mental health and physical well-being, they will have tools to find success in a school environment as rigorous as it is rewarding. 

“There’s a lot of generational trauma that comes with health for the Latinx community, but by breaking the patterns that our parents made, we can take better care of ourselves. The upcoming events are informative and engaging, and we hope that through direct outreach and talking to people one-on-one, will promote blood donors and better-kept health,” Guerrero said. 

Along with the preliminary opening event, the Blood and Platelet Center hosted a week-long blood drive to encourage a surge of Latinx volunteers and bring awareness to the vibrant culture and history of a wildly prominent community on campus.

Members of the Chicanx/Latinx community were encouraged to stop by the booth directly outside of Ackerman Union, the blood drive was open to any students passing by. 

The center takes appointments through its website, https://www.uclahealth.org/gotblood/, and walk-ins for last-minute donors. Monday through Thursday, the Blood and Platelet Center is open from 11 AM to 5 PM; on Friday, it will be available from 9 AM to 3:40 PM. Show support for the UCLA Hispanic community and blood transfusion recipients by donating blood throughout the year.  

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