Sickle cell blood drives aim to raise awareness about the need for a diverse blood supply

February 14, 2013

MADISON, Wis. - For the second consecutive year, the American Red Cross is joining with the Urban League of Greater Madison and Morgridge Center for Public Service to help raise awareness about the need for a diverse blood supply. Community members are encouraged to donate blood at one of two upcoming Sickle Cell Awareness Blood Drives at the Urban League and University of Wisconsin Memorial Union.

According to the Sickle Cell Disease Association of American, sickle cell disease affects approximately 100,000 people in the U.S. It is an inherited blood disorder that can cause anemia, lung and tissue damage, strokes and terrible pain, and roughly 98 percent of those affected are people of African descent.

While there is no cure for sickle cell disease, its symptoms are often managed through regular blood transfusions. It’s important that blood donors reflect the ethnic diversity of the patients who receive their blood, as patients with sickle cell disease — primarily in the black community — are less likely to have complications from blood donated by black donors.

“My son, Isaiah, has relied on blood transfusions for the past six years to combat the effects of sickle cell disease,” said Red Cross board member Latyna Lewis. “Blood donors with the same ethnic background as Isaiah often make the best match, and I invite others in the community to donate blood and give patients the chance to lead a normal life.”

Sickle Cell Awareness Blood Drives
Urban League of Greater Madison
2222 S. Park St., Madison, Wis.
University of Wisconsin Memorial Union
800 Langdon St., Madison, Wis. 

The Red Cross is committed to maintaining a diverse base of blood donors to help ensure there is enough blood of every type available for patients with serious medical needs. The stability of the nation’s blood supply is in the hands of healthy, volunteer blood donors who give generously for others in need. The Red Cross seeks to prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. One way to help support this mission is to become a dedicated blood donor.

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 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.

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 or join our blog at