By Doyle Rader
The American Red Cross, United MegaCare and The Potter’s House continued their ongoing partnership by hosting a blood drive to raise awareness of sickle cell disease on Saturday, October 15. Twenty-two people stopped by the drive, donating a total of 23 units of blood.
“Sickle cell is a disease that affects primarily the African American population,” said Peal Rivers, the project coordinator for United MegaCare. “It’s really important for people to donate. Sickle cell is a disease where you want to match ethnicities [of blood donors to patients].”
In the U.S., it is estimated that over 100,000 people – the majority of whom are of African descent. Blood donations from individuals of the same race or similar ethnicity and blood type have a unique ability to help patients experiencing a sickle cell crisis by reducing the risk of transfusion complications.
“Sickle cell, in particular, impacts my family,” said blood donor Jaleah Williams. “I’ve had relatives that have passed away from it. I really didn’t understand it when I was growing up, but it really impacted some of my cousins.”
Williams’ husband, Anthony, decided to be a Power Red donor for the first time. A Power Red donation allows donors to give a concentrated dose of red cells, the part of the blood used every day for those needing transfusions as part of their care.
“I actually wasn’t too familiar with it until I came in and the [Red Cross phlebotomist] asked me if I wanted to do Power Red,” he said. “When she explained what it is, I definitely wanted to help out and give the Power Red.”
Drives like these, in partnership with United MegaCare, help support the Red Cross Sickle Cell Initiative and Joined by Blood campaign. Together they aim to build a diverse blood supply, grow the number of blood donors who are Black and help patients with sickle cell disease while improving health outcomes.
“I am just really impressed with American Red Cross,” Rivers said. “That’s one reason why United MegaCare is here today—to encourage people, to educate people and let them know that their donations are really needed. It is providing a lifesaving service to those who have the disease and who need the blood desperately.”
Register for your next appointment to donate blood by visiting redcrossblood.org.