(Sept. 10, 2020) — During Sickle Cell Awareness Month, the American Red Cross is calling on African American and Latino blood donors to help ensure a diverse blood supply that meets the transfusion needs of patients battling sickle cell disease. Sickle cell disease is the most common inherited blood disorder in the U.S. About 100,000 people of various racial and ethnic backgrounds are living with sickle cell disease, most of whom are of African or Latino descent. That’s why during the month of September, the Red Cross Alabama-Mississippi Region, in partnership with community, faith-based organizations, invites healthy volunteer donors to donate at blood drives in honor of sickle cell patients at multiple locations.
Donation appointments can be made by downloading the free Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device. Sponsor code: SCF. Presenting donors will receive a special Red Cross T-shirt.
Sickle cell disease causes red blood cells to be crescent-shaped instead of soft and round. This makes it difficult for blood to flow smoothly and carry oxygen to the rest of the body. Blood transfusion helps sickle cell disease patients by increasing the number of normal red blood cells in the body, helping to deliver oxygen and unblock blood vessels. Regular blood transfusions are often a critical treatment for sickle cell patients.
“Blood transfusions are absolutely essential for keeping many sickle cell patients alive,” said Dr. Milford Greene, Director of Health Affairs & Clinical Laboratory Services, Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia. “Because many sickle cell disease patients depend on a compatible blood match from a donor of the same race or ethnicity, the Red Cross encourages eligible donors to roll up a sleeve and share their strength with patients during Sickle Cell Awareness Month.”
Blood donation opportunities in honor of sickle cell patients:
Sixth Avenue Baptist Church
9/20/20: 7:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. 1101 Martin Luther King Drive SW. Birmingham, Al.
Huntsville-Madison County NAACP Branch
9/22/20: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Richard Showers Sr. Recreation Center 4600 Blue Spring Rd. Huntsville, Al.
Our Mother of Mercy Catholic Church
09/23/20: 1 – 6 p.m. Parish Hall 216 Saucier Street Pass Christian, Ms.
Guiding Light Church
09/27/20: 7:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. The Attic 1800 John Rogers Dr. Birmingham, Al.
Merit Health Central
09/29/20: noon – 5 p.m. 1850 Chadwick Drive Jackson, Ms.
Important COVID-19 information for donors
The Red Cross is testing blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. The test may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to this coronavirus, regardless of whether they developed symptoms. Red Cross antibody tests will be helpful to identify individuals who have COVID-19 antibodies and may qualify to be convalescent plasma donors. Convalescent plasma is a type of blood donation collected from COVID-19 survivors that have antibodies that may help patients who are actively fighting the virus. Donors can expect to receive the results of their antibody test within 7 to 10 days through the Red Cross Blood Donor App or the donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org.
The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness, referred to as a diagnostic test. To protect the health and safety of Red Cross staff and donors, it is important that individuals who do not feel well or believe they may be ill with COVID-19 postpone donation.
Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including temperature checks, social distancing and face coverings for donors and staff – have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive and are required to wear a face covering or mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance.
How to donate blood
For more information and to make an appointment to donate, download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device and enter sponsor code: SCF. Donors of all blood types are needed. 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 consent 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.
Blood donors can now save time at their next donation by using RapidPass® to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, from a computer or mobile device on the day of their donation, prior to arriving at the blood drive. To get started and learn more, visit RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass and follow the instructions on the site.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.