South Asians: Are You at Risk?

Diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and other conditions are no stranger to the Malayalee community. Now, it seems that cases of cancer and organ transplantation are on the rise.

Numerous studies exist on the health and medical care of South Asians in the UK, but I had trouble finding anything substantial regarding South Asians in the United States. Why is this? Send me a link if you do find something U.S.-related.

What you should know about South Asian health:

Higher risk of heart disease and diabetes, and at younger ages

Rapid growth of thalassemia (a blood disorder) for South Asians in the San Francisco Bay Area

Six to eight times higher probability of kidney failure

South Asians: Will You Need Blood?

In recent years, groups of South Asians have banded together to increase awareness about the need for bone marrow donors. Indian-American Vinay Chakravarthy, diagnosed with a life-threatening cancer of the blood, was a catalyst for this movement, which generated a plethora of publicity. Even Sen. Barack Obama made an appeal on Vinay’s behalf. I remember being approached in Houston for the bone marrow registry after a girl named Megan was in need. Now that I work at The Blood Center in Houston, my perspective on marrow and blood donation is different. I actually have one now.

If someone you know receives a marrow transplant, they’ll also need blood from volunteer donors. If you know anyone who’s received an organ transplant or fought through cancer, they’ve received blood from volunteer donors.

There are people out there who donate blood every eight weeks just to help individuals they’ve never seen and will never meet. For the most part, blood has to already be on the hospital shelves to save someone’s life. Blood literally saves lives, since there is no substitute and it has to come from one person to go to another.

When it comes to donating blood, only 5 percent of eligible donors give blood. Out of that sliver of the population, 3 percent of donors in the Texas Gulf Coast area are Asian.

Blood Sutra: This cool video dispels myths about blood donation from a Bollywood perspective.

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