For sisters Cynthia and Irma Torres, their dedication to blood donation was born out of love and in memory of their father Luis, who passed away from lymphoma in 2013.
Born and raised in Little Village, a vibrant Mexican-American neighborhood in Chicago known as La Villita, amongst a tight-knit family and community, both sisters embrace and sustain the meaning of community and attending to a need when this presents itself. This was one of the fundamental family values both parents instilled in them—you come together to serve those in need. Since 2013, both sisters have been answering the need by donating blood.
“After my first donation, I truly felt like I was making a difference and it only made me want to continue to help others. Thanks to the many people that donated before me, my father was able to receive what he needed in his time of need,” explained Cynthia. “I continually look for blood drives that are close to home and will schedule time-off of work to attend. My father was a self-less man who was always available for family and friends in their time of need. He would certainly support and encourage my sister and I to donate as often as we can especially because Latinos don’t routinely donate blood.”
Hispanics are the fastest growing part of the United States population, yet only a small percentage of Hispanics donate blood. African American and Latino populations have a higher frequency of type O blood than other ethnicities which can treat a broader cross-section of patients.
“Minority groups are not routine blood donors as we could be, and it may be something as simple as fear of the unknown. If we can inspire Latino high school and college students to donate, raise awareness, and bring this message home to their neighborhoods, the process would be made less daunting,” stated Irma. “Donating blood is like voting for me, it’s my duty to provide blood for the many who need it.”
Their father’s legacy includes a son, five grandchildren, and cherished memories of laughter, family, and unity. Both Cynthia and Irma are committed to remain active blood donors in memory of their father for as long as they can and wish to inspire their family and friends to do the same.
It’s important to know that as a Hispanic blood donor, you make a powerful contribution to many patients in need. Accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease all count on blood donations to battle illness and injury.
On this World Blood Donor Day, the Red Cross of Illinois extends our deepest gratitude to all blood donors who selflessly give the gift of life and encourage people of all races and ethnicities to donate blood to help ensure the right blood product is available to those in need. Blood donations decline in late spring and early summer –especially during holiday weeks – but the need for blood and platelet transfusions doesn’t take a summer break!
Please visit redcrossblood.org to find a blood donation appointment opening near you.
Written by Illinois Region Communications Manager, Connie Esparza