People living with Sickle cell hoping for more Black donors; Red Cross creating partnerships

Akilah Davis Image
Monday, February 5, 2024
Red Cross banking on more Black donors with HBCU partnership
People with sickle cell may need as many as 100 units of blood a year.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Blood donations are needed now more than ever, but there's a call for a diverse blood supply, according to the Red Cross.

As Black History Month is commemorated, the organization is urging Black donors to donate. They play a vital role in donations for those with sickle cell disease.

"When you're thinking about individuals who may need a blood transfusion, African Americans and Black blood is more compatible. So that's one in three versus with Caucasians, their match is 1 in 250," said Hope Martin, Red Cross Sickle Cell Account Manager.

Facts from the Red Cross:

  • One in three Black donors is a match for people with sickle cell
  • People with sickle cell may need as many as 100 units of blood a year

The disease requires people living with it to undergo frequent blood transfusions throughout their lifetime.

"You're thinking about how is this really helping? It is patients with sickle cell disease, cancer patients, mothers delivering prematurely, and trauma patients who may need transfusions. You're literally making a difference and saving their lives," said Martin.

The urgent call comes as the nation faces an emergency blood shortage. With winter storms across the country canceling blood drives in nearly every state, it has led to as many as 15,000 blood and platelet donations going uncollected in January.

The Red Cross has announced partnerships with HBCUs, faith-based organizations and the National Pan Hellenic Council to get more support from Black donors. They've asked those groups to host blood drives and encourage the community to donate.

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