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American Red Cross looking for more Black donors as sickle cell initiative begins

The organization is encouraging more African Americans and those of African descent to donate blood to help save the lives of those battling the disease.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Red Cross is looking for more Black donors in hopes of saving people from a debilitating disease.

The organization said blood transfusions can change the life of someone with sickle cell disease.

Remy Kennedy, an account manager with the Red Cross, said Black donors have specific markers in their cells that make their blood ideal for helping this illness.

“Your blood is special, it’s important,” she said. “If someone is in the hospital with sickle cell, they can probably benefit more form a black donor because it could be more equally matched.”

What is sickle cell disease?

According to the Red Cross, the common and inherited disorder causes red blood cells to harden and form a “c-shape.” As those cells harden, they get caught in blood vessels and cause serious complications including severe pain, respiratory issues, organ failure and even strokes.

Nearly 100,000 people in the US have the disease with most being of Black descent.

There isn’t a cure for the disease, but blood transfusions are widely used for critical sickle cell treatments.

To learn more about sickle cell disease, click here.

If you would like to sign up for an appointment to donate blood, you can visit the American Red Cross website or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.