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Why Should You Designate Your Donation for a Sickle Cell Patient?

  • Sickle Cell Disease affects approximately 80,000 African Americans in the United States. While there is no cure, the painful symptoms of this disease can be prevented by regular blood transfusions.
  •  Because of the need for regular transfusions over a patient’s lifetime, it is critically important that blood transfused to Sickle Cell patients be as closely matched as possible. If the blood is not closely matched, the patient may build antibodies against the donated blood, and the transfusions will be ineffective in treating the symptoms of the disease.  Like other genetic factors, blood is similar among people of the same ethnic group, that is why the closest match for a Sickle Cell patient will most likely come from an African American donor
  • Currently, the Greater Chesapeake and Potomac Blood Region is providing hundreds of specially matched blood donations for Sickle Cell patients every month, yet we are not able to collect all of those donations locally.  Blood not collected in our Region is received from other Red Cross regions and other blood centers.  This means the some patients may have to wait for a blood transfusion until a match can be found and the blood can be sent to us.
  • African American donors are the ethnic group most affected by Sickle Cell disease.  That is why they are especially needed for this special Blue Tag program. Because Sickle Cell disease is very rare in other ethnic groups, non-African American donors will not be invited to participate.
  • The Blue Tag designates donations from African American donors for patients with Sickle Cell Disease.  If a patient with Sickle Cell Disease does not need blood at this time, it will not be wasted; it will go to another patient in need.
  • To help increase the availability of blood for Sickle Cell patients, it is very important to increase the number of African Americans who donate blood.  Those who already donate should donate as often as possible, and those who do not donate should give.  Churches, organizations, and businesses can help by hosting blood drives and encouraging African American members to participate.