Trends in age and red blood cell donation habits among several racial/ethnic minority groups in the United States

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To meet the needs of a diverse patient population, an adequate supply of red blood cells (RBCs) from ethnic/racial minority donors is essential. We previously described the 10-year changes in minority blood donation in the United States. This study describes donation patterns by donor status, age, and race/ethnicity.


Data on the age and the number of unique black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, and white RBC donors were obtained from eight US blood collectors for 2006, 2009, 2012, and 2015. Donors self-identified their race/ethnicity. First-time (FT) and repeat (R) donors were analyzed separately.


Overall, for both FT and R donor groups, whites constituted the majority of unique donors (FT 66.7% and R 82.7%) and also donated the greatest proportion of RBC units (FT 66.6% and R 83.8%). Donors less than 20 years old comprised the greatest proportion of FT donors for all racial/ethnic groups (39.2%) and had the highest mean number of RBC donations per donor (1.12) among FT donors. Conversely, R donors less than 20 years old had some of the lowest mean number of RBC donations per donor (1.55) among R donors, whereas R donors at least 60 years old had the highest mean (1.88). Year by year, the percentage of FT donors who were less than 20 years old increased for all race/ethnicities. For R donors, whites were more frequently older, while Hispanics/Latinos and Asians were younger.


Greater efforts to convert FT donors less than 20 years into R donors should be undertaken to ensure the continued diversity of the blood supply.

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