BLOOMINGTON — Danielle “Dani” Jauregui wants to address a cultural challenge while bolstering the blood supply.
Jauregui is an Illinois Wesleyan University senior who has volunteered to help coordinate a community blood drive Oct. 25 at IWU.
While the drive is open to the general public, a goal is to get more Hispanic blood donors, said Jauregui and Ben Corey of the Peoria-based American Red Cross Mid-America Blood Services Division, which includes most of The Pantagraph area.
About 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood but only 8 percent of them give blood, Corey said.
But less than 1 percent of the Hispanic community donates blood, he said.
“The tradition of donating blood is not strongly established in the Hispanic community,” he said. But the main reason people don’t donate is because they’ve never been asked.
Jauregui, whose summer internship involved the Bloomington-based American Red Cross of the Heartland, decided to do something about that. She reached out to SALSA — the Spanish and Latino Student Association at IWU, of which she is a member — and began planning the blood drive targeting Hispanics.
Majoring in sociology and Hispanic studies, Jauregui said she welcomed the “opportunity to study outside the classroom and put into practice what I’ve learned.”
SALSA members will serve as interpreters and a Spanish-speaking phlebotomist is coming from Chicago for the blood drive, she said.
Special efforts also are being made to get the word out though fliers in Spanish. Jauregui also contacted St. Mary’s Church on Bloomington’s west side, which has a Mass in Spanish.
“At the Red Cross, our goal is to encourage eligible individuals of all blood types and ethnicities to donate to help ensure blood is available for patients in need,” Corey said.
While every blood donation is important, 57 percent of Hispanics have Type O blood, Corey said. Type O, found in 45 percent of the general population, is routinely in short supply and in high demand by hospitals because it’s the most common blood type and because Type O negative is the universal blood type that is compatible with any blood.
“Diverse populations, therefore, play a critical role in meeting the constant need for blood,” Corey said.
Potential donors who have traveled outside the United States to areas where there is malaria will be deferred from donating for 12 months, Corey said. Call 800-RED-CROSS before making an appointment to review your travel history, he advised.
Corey noted that red blood cells have a shelf life of 42 days so they must be replenished.
“The need for blood is constant. Blood of all types is needed to maintain an adequate supply for patients.”
What: American Red Cross/SALSA (Spanish and Latino Student Association) blood drive
When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 25
Where: Illinois Wesleyan University’s Memorial Center, Bloomington
Why: To increase blood donations, particularly among the Hispanic population
For an appointment: Call 800-RED CROSS or visit www.redcrossblood.org