National Sickle Cell Awareness Month Blood Drive a "Huge Success"
Southern Blood Services Region
The second annual Atlanta University Center National Sickle Cell Awareness Month Blood Drive was recently held on the campus of Morehouse College. The blood drive, held in partnership with the American Red Cross and the Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia, resulted in 156 pints of blood on a goal of 150 pints. The Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia screened 64 participants on-site for the sickle cell trait. This annual event is designed to raise awareness and educate the community on the importance of blood donations and sickle cell disease. Next year the drive will be held on the Clark Atlanta University campus.
“We feel this drive was a tremendous success,” said Randy Edwards, CEO, American Red Cross Southern Blood Services Region. “We are grateful to students, faculty and staff at Morehouse College, Clark Atlanta University and Spelman College for their support. They took charge of this annual event and rallied participants to help bring awareness and education on sickle cell disease and the on-going need for blood donations.”
Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder that affects red blood cells. Sometimes these red blood cells become sickle-shaped (crescent-shaped) and have difficulty passing through small blood vessels. Blood transfusions help benefit sickle cell disease patients by reducing recurrent pain crises, risk of stroke and other complications. One in 12 African-Americans carries the trait for sickle cell disease. One in 600 African-Americans has sickle cell anemia.
African-American donors provide the best chance of survival for patients of color with rare blood types or those who must have repeated transfusions for sickle cell anemia, heart disease, kidney disease or trauma. Blood from a donor with a similar ethnic background to that of the patient is less likely to be rejected or cause complications or illness.
African-American communities also have a higher percentage of donors with type O or type B blood, commonly the first blood types to drop to critically low levels during a shortage. Because just over one percent of African Americans in the state of Georgia are blood donors, larger numbers of African-American donors are greatly needed to help supply these crucial blood types and support the community blood supply.
Most healthy people age 17 and older, or 16 with parental consent, who weigh at least 110 pounds are eligible to donate blood and platelets. Donors who are 18 and younger must also meet specific height and weight requirements. The process is safe and takes about an hour. For more information, visit www.redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (733-2767).