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Blood donors needed to help those with Sickle Cell Disease this month

September is Sickle Cell Awareness Month and the American Red Cross is reminding those of the importance of a diverse blood supply.
Credit: KSDK

ST. LOUIS — The American Red Cross is reminding those of the importance of a diverse blood supply during Sickle Cell Awareness month. 

Sickle cell disease is the most common inherited blood disorder in the United States. 

The disease distorts soft, round blood cells and turns them into hard and crescent-shaped cells, which can cause severe pain in an individual. 

“When cells harden, they can get caught in blood vessels, potentially leading to stroke and organ failure,” Dr. Emily Coberly, Chief Medical Officer at Red Cross of Missouri and Arkansas, said. “Transfusions provide healthy blood cells, unblocking blood vessels and delivering oxygen, minimizing crises patients with sickle cell may face.”

Sickle cell disease impacts over 100,000 people in the U.S. and most are of African-descent. 

Regular blood transfusions are critical for treatment to manage pain and complications. But, many can develop an immune response against blood from donors who do not match their own. 

Most individuals who are Black have a unique structure on their red blood cells that is not often found in other donors. One in three African American blood donors is a match for people with sickle cell disease. 

The Red Cross has launched a fall component of their initiative, Joined by Blood, to team up with local community organizations to host blood drives and inspire donors to give blood to those with sickle cell disease. Organizations like the National pen-Hellenic Council have joined to inspire others to donate. 

The Red Cross will also screen all blood, platelet and plasma donations from self-identified African American donors for the sickle cell trait. Results are available one to two weeks through their app after donating. 

To learn more information regarding Joined by Blood and the importance of a diverse blood supply, visit the Red Cross website. 

To find where to give and book a time to give blood you can use the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit their website or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Those who give blood through Sept. 18 will get an exclusive Red Cross t-shirt, while supplies last. 

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