Sept. 17, 2018 — During Sickle Cell Awareness Month, the American Red Cross is emphasizing the importance of a diverse blood supply to help meet the needs of those battling sickle cell disease, the most common inherited blood disorder in the country.
In the U.S., about 100,000 people of various racial and ethnic backgrounds, approximately 90 percent of whom are of African descent, are living with sickle cell disease. Regular blood transfusions are often used as a critical treatment for sickle cell patients, and blood donated by someone with a similar ethnicity is less likely to cause complications.
“Sickle cell disease profoundly impacts the quality of life of those living with this inherited blood disorder, and your blood donation could be the donation that helps a patient keep fighting,” said Alana Mauger, communications manager for the Penn Jersey and Northeastern Pennsylvania Blood Services regions. “The Red Cross encourages eligible donors to roll up a sleeve and share their strength with patients during Sickle Cell Awareness Month.”
Sickle cell disease causes red blood cells to be hard and crescent-shaped. This makes it difficult for blood to flow smoothly and carry oxygen to the rest of the body, which may lead to severe pain, tissue and organ damage, acute anemia and even strokes. Blood transfusions can minimize some of the health risks caused by sickle cell disease.
Individuals are encouraged to make an appointment to give blood by downloading the free American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). More information about blood and diversity is available on the Red Cross website.
How to donate blood
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 in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), 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 and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass® to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent 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.