American Red Cross emphasizes urgent need for Black blood donors to help sickle cell patients

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The American Red Cross on Wednesday emphasized the critical need for Black blood donors to help sickle cell patients this fall, as blood drives have been “canceled at alarming rates.”

The organization cited a drop in blood drives at schools, colleges and universities. In the spring, Black blood donors gave at Red Cross blood drives located at educational institutions more than another other location type.

The Red Cross reported having about 2,700 Black blood donors at schools this year, compared to more than 15,000 who gave in 2019. The concern of the coronavirus pandemic led to several blood drives getting canceled.

“Sickle cell disease profoundly impacts the quality of life of those living with this inherited blood disorder, and your blood donation could be the donation that helps a patient keep fighting,” Dr. Yvette Miller, executive medical director of the Red Cross Blood Services, said in a statement. “The pandemic hasn’t stopped the need for transfusions for sickle cell patients. The Red Cross encourages eligible donors to roll up a sleeve and share their strength with patients during Sickle Cell Awareness Month.”

Roughly 100,000 people in the United States, the majority being Black or Latino, are living with sickle cell disease, which is the most common genetic blood disease in the nation. September is Sickle Cell Awareness Month.

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