The Coastal Virginia American Red Cross and the Sickle Cell Association are asking African Americans in Hampton Roads to donate blood to support a current shortage being experienced by patients with Sickle Cell.
Sickle cell disease affects almost all races; however, it largely affects African Americans who depend on blood transfusions that must be matched very closely to reduce the risk of complications.
Since mid-March, the number of African Americans donating blood with the Red Cross has dropped by more than half, according to Michelle Ellis Young, Executive Director
Coastal Virginia American Red Cross located in Norfolk.
However, she said, “Despite the steep decline in blood donations, the need for blood products for patients with sickle cell disease has remained relatively stead.”
She explained, “Without a readily available blood supply, sickle cell patients can experience severe pain, tissue and organ damage, acute anemia and even strokes. Additionally, African American blood donors are vital for many patients with rare blood types, like those with sickle cell disease, who depend on blood that must be matched very closely to reduce the risk of complications.”
The low donor turnout is largely due to blood drive cancellations at businesses, churches and schools and the disproportionate COVID-19 infection rates for African Americans compared to other ethnicities.
According to the Sickle Cell Association, blood donors play an important role in sickle cell disease treatment. Intermittent, lifelong blood transfusions are often required to treat and/or prevent specific sickle cell-related complications, especially strokes. A single patient with sickle cell disease can receive up to 50-100 pints of blood each year.
Generally the best blood match for a patient requiring ongoing transfusions comes from donors of the same ethnic or genetic background. Use of this matched blood can decrease the risk of complications related to transfusion therapy, especially in patients who receive lifelong transfusions.
For this reason, it is extremely important to increase the number of available blood donors from all ethnic groups.
When you give blood, make sure to provide your race information. This helps the Red Cross more quickly identify potential matches for patients with specific blood needs.
“Our community needs you,” said Young. “Every pint counts and can save up to three lives.”
To learn more about the importance of African American donors for sickle cell patients, call or visit: 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) RedCrossBlood.org/SickleCell.
A Save A Life Sickle Cell Drive
Friday, June 26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Schedule an appointment at RedCrossBlood.org, enter sponsor code SCF. Sponsored by Military Circle Mall, The New Journal and Guide and the Sickle Cell Association
See Ad on Page 1-B of this issue (Vol. 120, No. 17) of the New Journal and Guide.