Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Novartis, BloodSource kick-off effort to increase blood donations by African-Americans - Sacramento Business Journal:

Currently, only one in five African-American who need a life-saving bone-marrow transplant will receive one because not enough African-Americans donate blood and bone marrow.

BloodSource and Novartis Diagnostics announced a partnership Monday to change that. The Sacramento-based blood bank and Emeryville division of the Swiss firm Novartis are kicking off an advertising and community outreach program over the next two months to encourage African-Americans to donate blood and register as bone-marrow donors.

The campaign is funded by a grant from Novartis, but the company declined to give the amount.

Sacramento is believed to be the first American city where such a campaign specifically reaches out to African-Americans. If successful, it could set a regional example of how to reverse a national trend that leaves thousand of African-Americans with little hope of receiving effective treatment for leukemia, sickle-cell anemia and other life-threatening diseases.

African-Americans make up 8 percent of the population in the Sacramento region, but account for only 2.3 percent of blood donations.

Bone-marrow transplants are often accompanied by a need for transfusions of matching blood types. Chances of a successful match between bone-marrow donor and recipient are much higher between people from the same racial or ethnic background.

Nationally, African-Americans are the least likely of any racial minority group to find a bone-marrow match.

“Donating blood and joining the Be the Match bone-marrow registry can save lives and will offer hope to another African-American on the other side of the country — or, quite possibly, a neighbor down the street,” BloodSource spokeswoman Leslie Botos said in a news release.

Novartis Diagnostics has been focused on solving unmet medical needs and the company is interested in improving the process for bone marrow transplants, said Dr. Cathi Petti, head of medical and scientific affairs for the company.

The division was formed in 2006 when the company bought Chiron Corp., a leader in blood safety testing for the transfusion industry.

For more information about the dates and times to give blood or to register as a possible bone-marrow donor, call BloodSource at 866-822-5663 or visit bloodsource.org.

(Disclosure: I work for Novartis.)

Posted via web from Doug's posterous

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