As the pandemic wears on, there continues to be a critical need for Black donors to roll up their sleeves. In support of the efforts by the American Red Cross of South Carolina, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. has committed to helping provide an adequate blood supply to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population.
This partnership aims to ensure the right blood product is available at the right time. Kurt Walker, who represents the 42nd District of Omega Psi Phi which spans across the Carolinas, donated to make a difference and challenged his brothers from the Lowcountry and beyond to do the same.
“We want everybody across these two states to participate in blood drives,” Walker urged. He’s been a blood donor since high school and attempts to give regularly.
Connection to Brotherhood
Rallying Omega Psi Phi Fraternity members to donate is important to meet the needs of patients, but the call to action runs deeper.
“This is a very serious endeavor for us because brother Dr. Charles R. Drew (1904-1950) is the pioneer for blood plasma preservation,” said Walker, recalling the legacy of his fraternity brother who served as the first Medical Director of the Red Cross. “We feel as a purpose and a mission that we donate regularly at Red Cross blood drives."
How blood donations help patients with sickle cell disease
Walker also recognizes the impact donors of diverse backgrounds can have on sickle cell patients who rely on blood transfusions to improve their quality of life. Since mid-March, the number of African Americans donating blood with the Red Cross has dropped by more than half amid the coronavirus outbreak. Because most people who have sickle cell disease are of African or Latino descent, African American blood donors may be the best match for sickle cell patients in need.
Despite the decline in blood donations from African American donors, the need for blood products for patients with sickle cell disease has remained steady. Without a readily available blood supply, sickle cell patients can experience severe pain, tissue and organ damage, acute anemia and even strokes. Furthermore, sickle cell patients are at high risk of serious complications from coronavirus infection, and blood transfusion can be a lifesaving treatment for these patients.
“We want everybody to go out and give blood as soon as possible.”
During a recent donation, Walker encouraged his fraternity brothers to become active blood donors by launching the #Omegas4LifeChallenge. Seeking participation from his fraternity, Walker directly called out five of his brothers to donate. As those individuals make their appointments and show up to donate, they are encouraged to recruit additional blood donors by posting on social media with #Omegas4LifeChallenge and tagging at least five of their friends to participate in the challenge, too.
Make an appointment to donate blood
During this uncertain time, we encourage individuals to keep scheduled blood donation appointments and to make new blood donation appointments for the weeks ahead to ensure a stable supply throughout this pandemic. If you are healthy and feeling well, please make an appointment to donate by visiting RedCrossBlood.org