By Peg Taylor, Volunteer
The American Red Cross and SMUD have joined together to support the American Red Cross Sickle Cell Initiative and address the critical need for blood specific to the needs of those with sickle cell disease.
Sickle cell disease affects about 100,000 people nationwide with more than 400 patients residing in the Sacramento area. People with sickle cell disease live with extreme pain, anemia, tissue and organ damage and stroke.
READ: Local boy, 10, struggles with sickle cell disease; Family encourages blood donations to help
There is no cure for sickle cell disease but treatment through frequent blood transfusions can help prevent or reduce these symptoms. It has been found that blood donations from African-American donors can decrease complications related to transfusion therapy needed by sickle cell patients who receive lifelong transfusions.
Patients need as many as 10 units of blood every month. This need, along with a shortage of donors, has resulted in a dire need for African-American blood donations.
The American Red Cross is well placed to help meet this need, as the organization manages about 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply. The American Red Cross Sickle Cell Initiative was born out of the need to increase the amount of blood products available for people with sickle cell disease by increasing the number of currently underrepresented African American donors nationwide.
The Sickle Cell Initiative has a nationwide goal to triple the number of African-American blood donors by the end of December 2024.
READ: The blood donation process
“My experience with donating blood (to the Red Cross) was easy from start to finish. From the time I called over the phone, to the time I was sitting in the chair donating, the experience felt welcoming and safe. Everything was explained to me about the collection process. The staff were patient and accommodating,” said Anya-Jael Woods, with SMUD’s Sustainable Community Partnerships.
“The education I was provided about sickle cell disease and how blood donations help the community living with the disease made the process that much more impactful for me. It was a blessing to be a part of this drive and I look forward to participating again.”
HOW YOU CAN HELP: Volunteers needed to help with blood donations
To schedule your appointment or for more information visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800 RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
The Red Cross is now screening self-identified African-American donors for the sickle cell trait to help patients in need. Click here for more information on the American Red Cross Sickle Cell Initiative or to schedule a blood donation.
We thank SMUD for their partnership in bringing awareness to sickle cell disease.