Calling All Sickle Cell Fighters

By A.B. Moore, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross North Texas Region

The North Texas American Red Cross calls on diverse blood donors to roll up your sleeves and give during Sickle Cell Awareness Month this September. Did you know sickle cell disorder is the most common genetic blood disease in the US? Or that it largely affects Black and Latino communities?

1. Healthy red blood cells 2. Sickle cell red bloood cells
Courtesy of: Pkelong Wikimedia

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate over 100,000 Americans experience sickle cell disease, in which normally soft and round red blood cells harden to crescent slivers. These sticky misshaped blood cells can become trapped as they travel through the blood vessel highways that move critical nutrients around the body.

Because of these blocked channels, patients with sickle cell disorder may experience acute anemia, pain, tissue and organ damage, and even strokes. During an emergency, patients rely on blood transfusions from donors to increase the amount of healthy red blood cells that bring oxygen and clear blood vessels.

People who experience sickle cell disorder can require multiple blood transfusions each year, and because blood is a perishable product, patients around the country depend on diverse donors. For safety, blood types must be matched very carefully, and transfusions are more compatible when patients and donors are from similar racial and ethnic backgrounds.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sickle cell disorder is most commonly found in individuals who have ancestors from areas of the world which, past or present, have high rates of the tropical mosquito-borne disease malaria. It’s thought having sickle cell disease makes one less likely to experience more severe malaria infections.

But this year, during the current coronavirus pandemic, the American Red Cross has seen a severe decrease in blood donations. Considered a high-risk group for complications from a coronavirus infection, patients with sickle cell disorder can greatly benefit from a blood transfusion treatment. We encourage eligible Latino and African-American community members to become a Sickle Cell Fighter and donate today!

How to donate:

In the North Texas Region, you can schedule a lifesaving blood donation by visiting redcrossblood.org, downloading the American Red Cross Blood donor app, or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

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