POUGHKEEPSIE, NY — When patients living with sickle cell disease face a sickle cell crisis, blood transfusions can make a lifesaving difference. That’s why the American Red Cross …
POUGHKEEPSIE, NY — When patients living with sickle cell disease face a sickle cell crisis, blood transfusions can make a lifesaving difference. That’s why the American Red Cross has launched an initiative to increase the number of blood donors who are Black.
Sickle cell is an enduring and often invisible health disparity in the U.S. Over 100,000 people in the U.S. have it, and it’s the most common inherited blood disorder. The majority of patients are of African descent.
Despite the discovery of the disease more than a century ago, there have been fewer health resources available to help those currently suffering from sickle cell crisis compared to the resources available in similar diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with sickle cell disease experience worse health outcomes than in comparable diseases.
Sickle cell disease distorts soft, round blood cells and turns them hard and crescent-shaped, which can cause extreme pain. When hardened, the cells can get caught in blood vessels, potentially leading to stroke and organ failure.
Many patients with sickle cell disease will require regular blood transfusions to help manage it. Unfortunately, these patients may develop an immune response against donated blood that is not closely matched to their own.
More than half of blood donors who are Black have blood that is free of the problematic C, E and K antigens—making them the best match for those with sickle cell disease.
Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions—including face masks for donors and staff, regardless of vaccination status—have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive.
Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor app, visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (800/733-2767) or enable the blood donor skill on any Alexa Echo device to make an appointment or for more information.
All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. Learn more about sickle cell disease and the need for donors at https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/blood-types/diversity/sicklecell.html.
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