MADISON, Wis. – During September – National Sickle Cell Awareness Month – the American Red Cross encourages eligible individuals to donate blood and help all patients in need. Many patients that receive blood need a one-time transfusion, but patients who battle sickle cell disease, like Isaiah Lewis, face a lifetime of blood transfusions.
On Saturday, September 11, the Red Cross is holding a special blood drive to raise awareness about sickle cell disease and to help patients like Isaiah Lewis, who is receiving treatment for sickle cell disease at the American Family Children’s Hospital.
Sickle Cell Awareness Month Blood Drive
Saturday, September 11 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
American Red Cross Madison West Blood Donation Center
4860 Sheboygan Avenue, Madison
Isaiah’s first symptoms of sickle cell disease appeared when he was six months old – his red blood cell count would drop very low, causing painful episodes that included swollen hands and feet – and his treatment included IV fluids, blood transfusions and pain medication.
For the next two and a half years, this would be a recurring problem, along with colds and fevers that also caused his blood counts to drop. At the age of three, Isaiah had a stroke. To reduce the risk of a second stroke, he was placed on a blood transfusion program that requires him to get transfusions every three weeks.
“Isaiah has type O positive blood, but usually receives O negative blood because there isn’t any O positive blood available that is a good match for him,” said Latyna Lewis, Isaiah’s mother and local blood drive coordinator. “His body is starting to build up antibodies, making it harder to find a good match for his transfusions.”
Sickle cell disease causes red blood cells to form an abnormal crescent shape. One of the most common treatments for sickle cell disease is regular blood transfusions, which can help reduce the risks of stroke, damage to major organs that can lead to severe infections, and other complications that can arise. Sickle cell disease affects more than 70,000 people in the United States and 90 percent of all sickle cell disease occurs in people of African descent. Currently, there is no cure for sickle cell disease.
The Red Cross is committed to maintaining a diverse base of blood donors to help ensure that all blood types are available for patients with serious medical needs. For more information about sickle cell disease, visit sicklecelldisease.org.
How to Donate Blood
Simply call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE (448-3543) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license, or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
About the American Red Cross
Governed by volunteers and supported by giving individuals and communities, the American Red Cross is the single largest supplier of blood products to hospitals throughout the United States. While local hospital needs are always met first, the Red Cross also helps ensure no patient goes without blood no matter where or when they need it. In addition to providing nearly half of the nation’s blood supply, the Red Cross provides relief to victims of disaster, trains millions in lifesaving skills, serves as a communication link between U.S. military members and their families, and assists victims of international disasters or conflicts.