Red Cross urges blood donations during Sickle Cell Awareness Month

Red Cross urges blood donations during Sickle Cell Awareness Month

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - It’s Sickle Cell Awareness Month, and the Red Cross is urging African-Americans and Latinos to donate blood.

The Red Cross said the number of donors dropped during the pandemic.

A recent Red Cross blood drive.
A recent Red Cross blood drive.

Sickle cell disease is the most common blood disorder in the U.S., attacking mostly people of African-American and Latino descent, impacting over 10,000 patients across our state. That’s close to 10 percent of the disease in the country, according to Red Cross.

To help manage the disease, the sickle cell patient often requires frequent blood transfusions.

The transfusions help increase the number of normal red blood cells in the body to help deliver oxygen and to unblock blood vessels.

Ronnika McFall, spokesperson for American Red Cross.
Ronnika McFall, spokesperson for American Red Cross. (Source: WALB)

“A diverse blood supply is very important to help meet the needs of those battling sickle cell disease. Red blood cells carry markers on their surface called antigens that determine blood types. Some are unique to specific racial and ethnic groups and because of this many, sickle cell patients are more likely to find a compatible blood match from a donor of their same race or ethnicity,” said Ronnika McFall, spokesperson for the Red Cross.

The American Red Cross needs donors to donate blood.
The American Red Cross needs donors to donate blood. (Source: WALB)

McFall said they’re able to meet patient needs with their current blood inventory right now but there’s a critical need for more.

If you’re interested in donating, you can download the Red Cross Donor app to schedule an appointment at the nearest location.

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