When sickle cell disease patients are faced with a sickle cell crisis, blood transfusions can make a vital difference. That’s why the American Red Cross has launched an initiative to increase the number of black blood donors to help patients with sickle cell disease, a persistent and often invisible health disparity in the United States.
In the United States, more than 100,000 people suffer from sickle cell anemia, the most common inherited blood disorder, and the majority of patients are of African descent. Despite the disease being discovered over a century ago, there have been fewer health resources available to help those currently suffering from sickle cell crisis compared to similar illnesses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with sickle cell disease have worse health outcomes than comparable illnesses.
FASTER BLOOD MATCH
Many patients with sickle cell disease will need regular blood transfusions to help manage their disease. Unfortunately, these patients can develop an immune response against donor blood that does not closely match their own. Many black people have distinct markers on their red blood cells that make their donation ideal for helping patients with sickle cell disease. More than half of black blood donors have blood free of C, E, and K antigens, making it the best choice for people with sickle cell disease.
The Red Cross is asking members of the black community to join them in helping to bridge this health disparity and meet the needs of patients with sickle cell disease. Donors can take action today by booking a blood donation appointment at RedCrossBlood.org, downloading the Blood Donor App or calling 1-800-RED CROSS. To help meet the need for blood in September – Sickle Cell Awareness Month – all donors who donate with the Red Cross from September 13 to 30 will receive a limited edition t-shirt with the theme of football, while supplies last.
Sickle cell anemia deforms the soft, round blood cells and makes them hard and crescent-shaped, which can cause extreme pain. Once hardened, cells can get stuck in blood vessels, which can lead to strokes and organ failure.
“Transfusions provide healthy blood cells, unblocking blood vessels and providing oxygen,” said Jonathan McNamara, regional director of communications. “By increasing the amount of closely matched blood products, the Red Cross is able to ensure that the right blood product is available at the right time for patients with a sickle cell crisis, thereby minimizing complications for people with blood groups. rare that fight against sickle cell anemia. “
EACH TRANSFUSION COUNTS
17-year-old Demarus Torrence loves comics and sci-fi movies, and he balances his work in high school while living with sickle cell disease. He has monthly blood transfusions and, sometimes, regular hospital stays to relieve extreme pain and other complications. “Just imagine someone hitting you on the back with a hammer, constantly, and it just won’t stop,” said Demarus’ mother, Passion Terrell. “Demarus describes it, and you can imagine it, but you really can’t.”
Demarus is the only person in his immediate family with the disease, although tests have revealed that other family members are carriers of the sickle cell trait. As a mother, Passion made it her mission to take care of her beloved son and inspire others to donate blood, especially black people and people who have never donated. The family organized a Red Cross blood drive at Demarus school this month to highlight that generous donations can make all the difference for people like him. “It’s amazing – once he has that blood in him, it’s like a different person,” Passion said. “His breathing is improving; his blood levels are improving. It is as if his body is waking up.
LOAN SUPPORT COMMUNITY PARTNERS
Partnerships with national and local organizations within the black community are essential for building trust, sharing information and working together to engage new donors to save lives. Nationally, the Red Cross is excited to announce new partnerships with leading organizations like the NAACP and 100 Black Men of America, Inc. to raise awareness of sickle cell disease as a persistent and heartbreaking health disparity. , and to help sickle cell patients encourage blood donation from black people.
NEXT BLOOD DONATION OPPORTUNITIES
September 23, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Longwood University, Lankford Student Union, Redford Street
SAFETY OF BLOOD DONATION
Every Red Cross blood drive and donation center meets the highest standards for safety and infection control, and extra precautions – including face masks for donors and staff, regardless of their condition. immunization status – have been implemented to help protect the health of everyone present. Donors are requested to make an appointment before arriving at the drive.
In an era when health information has never been more important, the Red Cross is examining all donations of blood, platelets and plasma from African American donors self-identified for the sickle cell trait. This additional screening will provide black donors with additional insight into their health and help the Red Cross identify compatible blood groups more quickly to help sickle cell patients who need trait negative blood. Blood transfusion is an essential treatment for people with sickle cell disease, and donations of blood from people of the same race, ethnicity and blood group have a unique ability to help patients fight sickle cell disease.
Donors can expect to receive sickle cell trait screening results, if applicable, within one to two weeks through the Red Cross blood donor app and online donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org.
HOW TO DONATE BLOOD
Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor app, visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or activate the Blood Donor skill on any Alexa Echo device to make an appointment. you or for more information. All blood groups are needed to ensure a reliable supply to patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other pieces of identification are required at check-in. People aged 17 in most states (16 with parental consent where state law allows), weigh at least 110 pounds, and are generally in good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 and under must also meet certain height and weight requirements.
Blood and platelet donors can save time on their next donation by using RapidPass® to complete their pre-donation reading and online health history questionnaire on the day of their donation, before arriving at the clinic. blood collect. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor app.
ABOUT THE AMERICAN RED CROSS
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and comforts victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military personnel and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to carry out its mission. For more information, visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.