NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
You can be the difference between life and death for a patient in need.
Each year, Bloodworks Northwest helps over 55,000 patients receive life-saving blood transfusions. And the organization needs donations from people of diverse ethnic backgrounds. Last month, it met with Chinese community leaders from the greater Seattle area to discuss ways to boost community engagement.
With a growing Asian population in the Northwest, there’s an increasing number of Asian patients needing blood transfusions. Dr. Yanyun Wu, chief medical officer at Bloodworks Northwest, said that ideally, the community blood supply is best supported by donors who closely reflect the diverse ethnic communities and patients served. “Advances in science make it possible to closely match donor blood with patients to reduce the chance of an immune system reaction against a transfusion,” said Wu. “In some situations, we know the best match can be achieved when donors and patients share a similar ethnic background.”
“Personally, it was a very valuable experience for me, as I learn so much from Dr. Wu’s presentation to understand the science and facts about blood donation and the challenges facing the Chinese (Asian) community to match the supply and demand locally,” said Y.P. Chan. An immigrant, Chan said Bloodworks needs staff members who are fluent in Chinese. He said new immigrants continue to arrive daily. They face a language barrier, but they want to engage, participate, and contribute to the community. Chan encouraged his peers to reach out to their respective organizations and ask people to donate blood.
Wesley Tanoto, who is a liaison to Chinese students at the University of Washington and Seattle University, said 99 percent of foreign students here are Chinese. He suggested partnering with Bloodworks Northwest to create an internship program — they could serve as translators and help with marketing and outreach.
Jim Xiao proposed a social media campaign to promote Bloodworks and recruit volunteers. Nancy Yang suggested translating Bloodworks materials into Chinese and using WeChat, a Chinese social media mobile application.
Vivian dela Rosa, Bloodworks Northwest’s Chief of Strategy and Operations, said she will lead the efforts to create an action plan. “We will work on strengthening our partnership with all of you through collaborations, enhancing cultural adaptation, education, and communication to deliver our mission and purpose,” she said.
The need for blood is often higher in summer and it takes about 800 donors a day to maintain a sufficient supply for the nearly 100 Northwest hospitals served by Bloodworks. Donors can schedule an appointment at any donor center by going online at schedule.bloodworksnw.org or by calling 1-800-398-7888. ■