Sickle Cell Disease Program

Volunteer donor program recruiting African-American blood donors to help those with Sickle Cell Disease.

In August 2010, the Northern California Blood Services Region and the Bay Area Chapter of the American Red Cross launched “Blue Tie Tag Program” as a way to help increase the diversity of the community blood supply, and to educate African-American’s about how their blood donation can help specific patients in need.

Although blood donations from all ethnic groups are needed, African-American’s who give blood may be able to help people affected by Sickle Cell Disease. Sickle Cell is an inherited blood disorder that affects more than 80,000 people in the U.S., 98 percent of whom are African American. People with sickle cell disease may need  frequent blood transfusions throughout their lives and other African-Americans can often provide blood which may more closely match the blood of these patients in need.  While African-Americans represent 12 to 14 percent of the total U.S. population, only about 1 percent of the African-American community donates blood.

Under the program, blood donors who identify themselves as being African-American or Black, can have a “blue tag” attached to their blood collection bag. This indicates that the donated unit of blood may be matched to a patient with sickle cell disease. If a patient with sickle cell disease does not need the blood within 21 days, or if there is not a match, the donated blood will be available for any patient in need.

Blue Tie Tag blood donations are accepted at all Red Cross blood drives and centers as well as at specific Blue Tie Tag blood drives in the Bay Area. Businesses, schools, churches, social or community groups interested in sponsoring a Blue Tie Tag blood drive, are encouraged to call 1-800-RED CROSS.

Individuals who are 17 years old or older (16 years old with parental permission), meet height and weight requirements (at least 110 pounds based on height) and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. There is no upper age limit for blood donation. Donors can call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or schedule an appointment online to donate at a blood donor center or blood drive throughout the Bay Area.

Do you want to help promote blood donation? Join the Blood Donor Community and find tools to help you tell your story, share your experience and spread the word.