During Sickle Cell Awareness Month in September, the American Red Cross emphasizes the importance of a diverse blood supply to help meet the needs of those with sickle cell disease – the most common inherited blood disorder in the U.S.
Sickle cell disease impacts more than 100,000 people across the country, most of whom are of African descent. Regular blood transfusions are critical to managing extreme pain and life threatening complications faced by many. Unfortunately, they may develop an immune response against blood from donors that is not closely matched to their own. However, because most individuals who are Black have unique structures on their red blood cells that are not often found in other donor populations, 1 in 3 African American blood donors is a match for people with sickle cell disease.
To help ensure patients have the blood products they need, the American Red Cross is working with partners in the Black community to grow the number of blood donors who are Black through the sickle cell initiative, which launched in 2021. In the first year of the initiative, the number of first-time African American blood donors who gave with the Red Cross increased by 60%. In September and October, the Red Cross launches Joined by Blood, a fall component of the initiative where the Red Cross is teaming up with community organizations, like the National Pan-Hellenic Council and others, to host blood drives and inspire donors who are Black to give blood to support patients with sickle cell disease.
To learn more, visit RedCrossBlood.org/OurBlood.