Myth Busters: Accepting Blood from ‘White’ Donors…
There is a huge misconception about this blood thing and since we get blood often, it’s important for us to sort out the truth from fallacy.
MYTH: Black people should accept blood transfusions only from other Africans/African-Americans because of the increased risk of adverse reaction from blood of other races…after all, with bone marrow transplants (which makes the blood), you do need a perfect racial match, so therefore blood needs a perfect racial match as well.
Bone marrow and blood are not the same thing in fact, as you know, they are completely different. Bone marrow matching is based on HLA antigens. A bone marrow transplant is like an organ transplant. These are more complicated to test for and more complicated to find donors for because HLA antigens are gotten from DNA. Genetically, my HLA type would not be the same as a white person, because it’s kinda like DNA. My bone marrow wouldn’t even match another random person with dark skin: but could only match a sibling, offspring…or maybe someone from my village. This is why it’s so difficult and people are on the list for YEARS and can’t find donors, especially interracial patients.
Regular blood matching is usually a broader type of matching. There are only 4 possibilities, your blood type is either A, B, O or AB.There are so many antigens and antibodies. It is different from PERSON to PERSON, irrespective of race. However, there are certain antigens that are specific to black people, Jewish people, Latin American people, or white people. There are different antigens specific to all people born in North America, that might not be in people born in Australia.
For example; the Dossy antigen is ABSENT in Africans living in Africa; but PRESENT in Blacks living in the USA. White people have the presence of Dossy A or Dossy B. With black people originating predominantly in tropical areas, the malaria parasite attacks the Dossy Antigen, so Africans born and living in Africa genetically developed the immune response of getting rid of the Dossy Antigen. Dossy is a clinically significant antigen because if you give the blood of a white person to a black person, they will get Dossy A or Dossy B. As a result, African Americans mostly have Dossy in their bloodstream whereas straight Africans do not. I live in Oregon, and it’s predominantly a white population, so I’ve gotten tons of ‘white’ blood. This means that although I’m straight African, I also do have Dossy A and Dossy B antigens because I’ve gotten so many blood transfusions.
The point is this: On the blood in the laboratory, they don’t write,” this is White blood” or this is “Black blood”. Blood is blood, it is a rare, beautiful commodity that should be graciously accepted from the wonderful donors who decided to let a random person stick a big needle into them every couple of months to give the gift of life to us. Blood is treated the same, and processed the same: the Red Cross doesn’t look to see whether the person is Black or White. The only reason it is taking so long to match your blood is as a result of having gotten multiple blood transfusions, your body has developed multiple antigens and antibodies.
In the blood bank, there is no racial consideration, the choice is based strictly and solely on your blood type. So settle down, relax and breathe easy. Getting ‘white’ blood is not going to kill you but only make you stronger.