Thirteen-year-old Angel is suffering from a severe pain crisis. Her mom carries her into the hospital because she cannot walk. Twins Joshua and Jordan, high school freshmen, experience similar pain episodes and are hospitalized about five times a year. All three have sickle cell disease. Angel, Joshua and Jordan depend on blood transfusions to help them battle this devastating illness. Yet donated blood might not always be available for them.
About 90,000 to 100,000 people in the United States suffer from sickle cell disease, mostly African-Americans. These patients – most of whom are children – need to undergo regular blood transfusions. Often, they develop antibodies to the blood they receive, leading to potentially life-threatening transfusion reactions. But if they can receive blood that’s more closely matched to their own, that risk is minimized. And the best matches are found among other African-Americans.
In addition, African-Americans face other serious health challenges that may require blood transfusions, including kidney disease, high blood pressure and higher birth rates of premature babies.
To meet the needs of patients, Blood Centers of the Pacific must collect more than 150,000 pints of blood each year. Yet, of those eligible to donate blood, less than 4 percent do. And of those who give, just 3 percent are African-Americans. The numbers just don’t add up.
We need more African-Americans to close the gap. We need more African-American blood donors to save lives in the community. We need you.
You can donate blood at one of our centers or at one of the hundreds of blood drives we run throughout the community. These drives are held at schools, places of worship, businesses and civic organizations and are coordinated by our Diversity Program Specialist. After your donation, your blood is tested, typed and sent to a patient in need.
When you become a blood donor with BCP, you’ll be automatically enrolled in our “Find the Hero in Me” program where you’ll earn points that can be redeemed for special gifts like movie tickets, gift cards or ice cream! You will also have access to your wellness screening results, like cholesterol, blood pressure and more. Click HERE to see if you are eligible to donate blood.
To be tested as a match to donate for patients like Angel, Joshua and Jordan, or to join the African-American Blood Donor program at BCP, call 888-393-4483 and schedule an appointment to donate blood.
An inherited disorder of the red blood cells, sickle cell disease is the most common genetic disorder in African-Americans. People with sickle cell have red blood cells that contain an abnormal type of hemoglobin. Instead of their normal round shape, red blood cells are crescent-shaped and have difficulty passing through the body’s small blood vessels. This eventually damages vessels and tissues, which can be extremely painful.
One in 500 African-Americans suffer from sickle cell disease, while one in 12 African-Americans carry the sickle cell trait. Patients with the disease may need 15 to 25 blood transfusions each year. And there’s no substitute for this lifesaving gift.