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African American and Latinx blood donors needed to help patients battling sickle cell disease

The Red Cross needs a diverse blood supply to meet the needs of patients with sickle cell disease.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The Red Cross is making a special request for African American and Latinx blood donors to help people being treated for sickle cell disease.

A diverse blood supply means that transfusion needs for patients with sickle call disease can be met.

According to the Red Cross, 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. During the month of September, the Red Cross Alabama-Mississippi Region is looking for healthy volunteer donors to donate at blood drives in honor of sickle cell patients at multiple locations. This drive is being held in partnership with community and faith-based organizations. 

American Red Cross spokesperson, Ronnika McFall, says it's important that organizations are involved. 

"Because schools and colleges - we normally would use those venues for blood drives, and because of the recent pandemic - all of those blood drives are now cancelled. And the need for host and outside organizations to help the Red Cross is very needed," says McFall.

Spread the word! You can donate blood in honor of sickle cell patients at these dates and locations, or at any time at a Red Cross blood donation center.

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.

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.

Sixth Avenue Baptist Church

9/20/20: 7:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. 1101 Martin Luther King Drive SW. Birmingham, 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.

“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.” 

The Red Cross explains that 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.

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