By: Doyle Rader
During June, the American Red Cross North Texas Region partnered with Medical City Healthcare to host a series of blood drives. The aim of each drive was to raise awareness of sickle cell disease and help ensure a healthy and diverse blood supply.
The 10 separate drives at Medical City locations across the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex collected a total of 246 units of lifesaving blood. One-hundred and four people walked through the doors and chose to donate for the first time, helping grow awareness and engagement of the need for blood in our communities.
In terms of the drives’ efforts to help patients with sickle cell disease, 37 donors self-identified as African American. Shayna Chandler is a Dallas resident with sickle cell disease and an advocate for sickle cell awareness. She partnered with the Red Cross several years ago to encourage donors to come out to drives and give so that blood is readily available.
“Having a blood drive like this means there will be more blood product on the shelf, so sickle cell patients don’t have to wait for a blood transfusion,” says Chandler. “The longer they wait, the more pain they can be in. So, when you have product on the shelf, it means that they are going to be able to take care of that pain quicker, and they’ll be able to recover sooner.”
Chandler had her first blood transfusion when she was 18 and has now had over 50 during her lifetime. The transfusions alleviate the pain that she and other sickle cell patients can endure. They allow her to get back to the things she enjoys in life—she loves to cook.
It is estimated that over 100,000 people in the United States have sickle cell disease, the majority of whom are African American. While there is no cure for sickle cell, blood donations from the Black community are essential for those suffering with the disease. Blood transfusions for patients with sickle cell must be a close blood type match. These matches are often found in donors of the same race or similar ethnicity.
The drives were also beneficial for the overall blood supply. Almost half of all the units of blood collected were from donors with O type blood—95 units of O positive and 26 units of O negative. Type O blood is regularly in short supply and in high demand at hospitals. O positive is the most common blood type—37 percent of the population has O positive blood—while O negative is the universal blood type needed for emergency transfusions and for immune deficient infants.
Maintaining a healthy and diverse blood supply requires the generosity of countless blood donors. We thank those that came out to the Red Cross and Medical City blood dives in June. They graciously rolled up their sleeves and made a commitment to help save lives in their communities.
If you would like to make an appointment to give blood at a location near you, sign up here.
You can find information about hosting a blood drive here.