Red Cross initiative aims to increase blood availability for patients with sickle cell disease

SYRACUSE - When patients living with sickle cell disease face a sickle cell crisis, blood transfusions can make a lifesaving difference. That’s why the American Red Cross has launched an initiative to grow the number of blood donors who are Black to help patients with sickle cell disease, an enduring and often invisible health disparity in the U.S.

Over 100,000 people in the U.S. have sickle cell disease, the most common inherited blood disorder, and the majority of patients are of African descent. Despite the discovery of the disease more than a century ago, there have been fewer health resources available to help those currently suffering from sickle cell crisis in comparison to similar diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with sickle cell disease experience worse health outcomes than comparable diseases.

A closer blood match leads to better outcomes

Many patients with sickle cell disease will require regular blood transfusions to help manage their disease. Unfortunately, these patients may develop an immune response against blood from donors that is not closely matched to their own. Many individuals who are Black have distinct markers on their red blood cells that make their donations ideal for helping patients with sickle cell disease. More than half of blood donors who are Black have blood that is free of C, E and K antigens – making them the best match for those with sickle cell disease.

The Red Cross asks members of the Black community to join in helping to address this health disparity and meet the needs of patients with sickle cell disease. Donors can take action today by scheduling a blood donation appointment at RedCrossBlood.org, by downloading the Blood Donor App or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS. To help tackle the need for blood in September – Sickle Cell Awareness Month − all donors who come to give with the Red Cross Sept. 13-30 will receive a limited-edition football-themed T-shirt, while supplies last.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities

Sept. 29, 1:30-6:30 p.m., American Legion Post 915, 3301 Fulton Avenue, Central Square.

Sept. 28, 1-6 p.m., Bethel Community Fellowship, 240 NY Route 49, Cleveland.

Sept. 30, 1:30- 6 p.m., Prince of Peace Church, 64 Gillespie Rd., Fulton.

Sept. 30, 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Hannibal High School, 928 Cayuga St., Hannibal.

Sept. 25, 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Elim Grace Church, 340 W. First St., Oswego.

Sept. 28, 1-6 p.m., United Baptist Church Scriba, 5111 NY 104, Oswego.

Sept. 28, 1-6 p.m., Faith Church of the Nazarene, 2813 NY Route 69, Parish.

Sept. 25, 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Calvary Baptist Church, 5353 US Route 11, Pulaski NY

Sept. 27, 1-5 p.m., Life Church, 2363 NY Route 49, West Monroe.

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