By Special to the Daily World
Dr. Regina M. Benjamin, the 18th Surgeon General of the United States Pubic Health Service, will be the featured guest speaker for the 10th annual American Red Cross Minority Recruitment Luncheon, Thurssday. Feb. 17, at 11:30 a.m., at the Hyatt Regency Hotel downtown.
Benjamin, founder and former CEO of the Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic in Alabama, has been an outspoken advocate for public health initiatives throughout her career. Serving those in poor and impoverished communities, she believes in the mission of the Red Cross in providing much needed blood and blood products to patients in need.
The Minority Recruitment initiative was started in 2001 in metro Atlanta and serves as a conduit to patients who suffer with diseases such as sickle cell anemia, heart disease and cancer. These patients rely upon life-saving blood and blood products.
“We are excited about the opportunity to have Dr. Benjamin as our 10th anniversary speaker,” says Randy Edwards, CEO, American Red Cross Southern Blood Services Region. “To have her speak to the participants from a national platform of the importance of blood being available for all patients in need will have a tremendous impact on our community here in the metro area.”
The group hopes to continue to educate the community on the importance of blood donations among minority groups in an effort to generate greater participation.
Blood is a community resource to be contributed to and shared by all. As steward for nearly half the nation’s blood supply, the American Red Cross relies on volunteer blood donors to ensure a safe and steady blood supply for the community.
The African-American communities have a higher percentage of donors with type O or type B blood, commonly the first blood types to drop to critically low levels during a shortage. Because just over 1 percent of African-Americans in the state of Georgia are blood donors, larger numbers of African-American donors are greatly needed to help supply these crucial blood types and support the community blood supply.
The American Red Cross Southern Blood Services Region has 14 blood donation centers in Georgia, seven of which are located in the metro Atlanta area.
The Red Cross must collect 1,200 units of blood each weekday to sufficiently supply more than 120 hospitals throughout the region. Blood can be donated every 56 days, and platelet donations can be made every two weeks, up to 26 times a year. Call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit http://www.redcrossblood.org to find the nearest blood drive or donation center.s