'It saves lives': Triangle Red Cross in need of blood donations for sickle cell patients

ABC11 Together highlights the strength of the human spirit, good deeds, community needs, and how our viewers can help
RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Red Cross leaders are saying this is the worst blood supply shortage in more than a decade and they need donations because the bottom line is they save lives -- especially for those who are living with sickle cell disease.

Carla Williams was 6 years old when she was diagnosed with sickle cell disease and began her lifelong fight to live.

"I couldn't do the things that the other children did. As progressing into middle school, high school, I tried to be, quote, unquote, normal, and do things like cheerlead and do that kind of stuff. But because of my condition, I was unable to do that," she said.

She spent a lot of time in hospitals and even more time managing pain that she says could only be relieved by one thing.

"The blood transfusions, like instantaneously give you energy and you know, makes you make able to go on with your day or with yourself. It like revives you," she said.

Yvette Miller with the Red Cross said it is blood donations made every day that help sickle cell patients like Williams.

"In this country, over 100,000 people have sickle cell disease, the great majority of whom are African American. So the issue regarding that is, blood is one of the primary treatments for sickle cell disease," said Miller.

Some sickle cell patients need up to 12 units of blood transfusions every month and a low supply can make it hard to identify a compatible unit.

"This low supply of blood really means that this population might be in jeopardy of not receiving the blood that they need to treat the complications of sickle cell disease," said Miller.

Williams has triumphed in her life -- having a healthy son despite the warnings of a dangerous pregnancy, graduating college, and pursuing a life she loves.

But a dwindling blood supply threatens that life.

"With each crisis, that's the main thing that's on a person with sickle cell's mind. Because we don't know if this crisis will be the last. Each one is a near-death experience; the pain is just that excruciating," Williams said.

She said she hopes people will hear her cry for donations and educate themselves on how to save a life.

"It saves lives. So people need to know that and just go out, give blood you know, give as much as you can, as often as you can to help save someone's life. It's just as simple as that: blood given blood saves lives," said Williams.

If you would like to donate there is a great opportunity for you Wednesday with ABC11's Together Blood Drive starting at 8 a.m. at three locations: Raleigh - Crabtree Marriott : 4500 Marriott Drive (8 a.m.-6 p.m.) Fayetteville - Fayetteville Community College (8 a.m.-6 p.m.) Durham - Durham County Main Library (downtown) (8 a.m.-3:30 p.m.)
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