Red Cross Honors Blood Drive Coordinator for Increasing Donations in the African-American Community

October 29, 2010

MADISON, Wis. – Recently, the American Red Cross Badger-Hawkeye Blood Services Region presented Latyna Lewis with the Spirit of Annual Giving Award for her work as a blood drive coordinator and advocate.

On March 6, 2010, Lewis hosted her first blood drive at Fountain of Life Church in Madison. To help ensure the blood drive’s success, she spoke with members of her church about the importance of donating blood and how blood donation has impacted her family. Her hard work paid off - 36 pints of blood were donated through the American Red Cross.

More importantly, of the 36 pints of blood that were donated that day, 26 were matches for sickle cell patients that rely on blood transfusions as part of their treatment. Helping people with sickle cell disease is a personal mission for Lewis – her son Isaiah has sickle cell disease and receives blood transfusions every three weeks.

 “Beyond being a successful first time blood drive, Latyna has helped increase awareness in the African-American community about the importance of blood donation,” said Greg Novinska, CEO of the Red Cross Badger-Hawkeye Blood Services Region. “Her work helps the Red Cross meet the needs of all patients.”

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. It is important that blood donors reflect the ethnic diversity of the patients who receive their blood. African-American patients with sickle cell disease are less likely to have complications from blood donated by African Americans.Currently, there is no cure for sickle cell disease.

How to Donate Blood

Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit 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 generally in 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.