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American Red Cross launches new Sickle Cell Disease initiative

JACKSON, TN (WNBJ) - Experts say countless people across the United States are living with Sickle Cell Disease and one of the treatments for this disease is blood transfusions.

For Sickle Cell Awareness Month, the American Red Cross has launch a new initiative to grow the number of blood donors to help increase the blood supply for sickle cell patients.

“So, basically Sickle Cell Disease is a disease of the blood, where your cell sickles. They turn into like a sickle and that can cause loss of oxygen and nutrients to your organs,” said Dr. Kevin Stephens, the Chief Medical Officer at UnitedHealthcare of the Midsouth.

This illness is most common in people of color.

“It really affects 1 out of 365 African Americans. It is really prevalent in this country, and we have a problem with it. It causes a lot of discomfort for many,” said Stephens.

The American Red Cross has launch a new initiative to increase the number of blood donations from people who carry the Sickle Cell trait.

Those donors’ blood can be used as a treatment for those with Sickle Cell who need blood transfusions.

“One of the things we are also seeing with those who can donate for Sickle Cell blood type and having that trait is that we are seeing a decrease due to the COIVD pandemic. Again, this is causing a shortage across the nation anyway, but when you are dealing with people who need blood transfusions on the regular the need for the Sickle Cell blood trait blood is so critical,” said Sherri McKinney, the Regional Director of Communications at the American Red Cross.

The Red Cross wants the public to donate blood and get tested to see if you carry the Sickle Cell trait.

“Truthfully, it is 15 minutes of your life that can mean a lifetime for someone else,” said McKinney.

You can register to donate blood on the American Red Cross website.

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