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Each year in June, the world comes together to raise awareness surrounding sickle cell anemia. This year, for World Sickle Cell Day 2022, the American Red Cross of the National Capital & Greater Chesapeake Region has partnered with Howard University to shine the light on sickle cell, by shining bright RED LIGHT on its national headquarters (located at 430 17th Street NW Washington, DC 20006) from dusk till dawn on June 17, June 18, June 19 and June 20.
Blood donors who are Black play a critical role in helping people with sickle cell disease, the most common genetic blood disease in the U.S. Patients with the disease may rely on regular blood transfusions throughout their lives to help prevent sickle cell complications, such as organ and tissue damage, severe pain, and strokes. It is essential that the blood they receive be the most compatible match possible, which generally comes from someone of the same race or similar ethnicity. Additional information on why African American blood donations are important can be found at http://www.RedCrossBlood.org/ourblood .
Even as many sickle cell patients continue to require frequent blood transfusions, blood donations typically decline in late spring and early summer – especially during holiday weeks, like Independence Day – but the need for blood and platelet transfusions doesn’t take a summer break. Generous blood and platelet donors are critically important in ensuring lifesaving care is available the moment patients need it. To schedule an appointment to donate, download the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Health insights for donors
At a time when health information has never been more important, the Red Cross is screening all blood, platelet and plasma donations from self-identified African American donors for the sickle cell trait. This additional screening will provide Black donors with an additional health insight and help the Red Cross identify compatible blood types more quickly to help patients with sickle cell disease. Blood transfusion is an essential treatment for those with sickle cell disease, and blood donations from individuals of the same race, ethnicity and blood type have a unique ability to help patients fighting sickle cell disease.
Donors can expect to receive sickle cell trait screening results, if applicable, within one to two weeks through the Red Cross Blood Donor App and the online donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org.
Blood drive safety
The Red Cross follows a high standard of safety and infection control. The Red Cross will continue to socially distance wherever possible at blood drives, donation centers and facilities. While donors are no longer required to wear a face mask, individuals may choose to continue to wear a mask for any reason. The Red Cross will also adhere to more stringent face mask requirements per state and/or local guidance, or at the request of blood drive sponsors. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at a drive.
How to donate blood
Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (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.
Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass® to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.