DayShana Jones is a 28-year-old hairstylist living with sickle cell disease. Her occupation revolves around her helping clients look and feel their best with a new hair style, cut or color. However, few know that she suffers from the most severe form of sickle cell disease—type SS.
From the outside, she looks healthy and is always in good spirits, but she lives with daily pains that can turn into a full crisis any time. “If you see me you wouldn’t know I’m not well and have pains. I’m upbeat, positive and always have a smile. I don’t complain,” says Jones.
Blood Transfusions Help When Pain Strikes
When a sickle cell pain crisis strikes, red blood cells stiffen and become crescent shaped blocking blood vessels from receiving the oxygen they need. Jones describes her pain crises as “a sensation of nails scraping her bones.” To help relieve her pain, she relies on weekly blood transfusions from Black blood donors because they have protein structures on their red blood cells similar to her own. These unique proteins are mostly found in donors of African descent and can make it difficult to find a compatible unit of blood in donors of other populations.
Because sickle cell disease disproportionately impacts the Black community and a sickle cell patient, like Jones may require thousands of blood transfusions throughout their lifetime—receiving blood from a donor with the same racial background is important. This is because frequent transfusions can cause sickle cell patients to develop an immune response against blood from a donor that is not closely matched and this can lead to serious complications.
Looking Good is Feeling Good
To celebrate Sickle Cell Awareness Month Jones, is offering her clients living with sickle cell disease ages 5 to 18 a “Surviving with Style” complimentary makeover this month. Styling hair is her passion and giving back to others is her way of honoring the selfless individuals who donate blood that helps to restore her health.
“I love doing hair and watching clients look in the mirror and see the best version of themselves,” she said. “When I receive blood transfusions, I feel like the best version of myself. The pain goes away, and I feel a lot stronger.”
Urgent Need for More Black Blood Donors
Unfortunately, the Red Cross has seen a significant decrease in Black blood donors due to disproportionately high COVID-19 infection rates for Blacks compared to other groups as well as blood drive cancellations. Right now, there is an urgent need for more Black blood donors to help patients battling sickle cell disease.
Eligible Black blood donors are urged to give this September. Schedule an appointment to donate by using the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), or by enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.
Blood Donation Safety
Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control. To ensure the health of staff and donors, precautions include:
- Temperature checks for both staff and donors prior to entering a blood drive or donation center;
- Face masks required for everyone;
- Available hand sanitizer throughout the donation process; and
- Social distancing wherever possible.
The Red Cross also asks that all donors schedule an appointment prior to arrival to help ensure we can manage the flow of donors at drives.
Learn more about COVID-19 blood donation safety protocols.
Blood Donor Information
In most states, individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
For tips on what to do before, during and after your blood donation visit: https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/blood-donation-process/before-during-after.html.
To save up to 15 minutes at the blood drive, donors are encouraged to complete a RapidPass. With RapidPass, donors complete the pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of donation, from a mobile device or computer. To complete a RapidPass, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App.