My advocacy efforts are paying off through new blood donors

Turning awareness into action takes time, so don't get discouraged

Dunstan Nicol-Wilson avatar

by Dunstan Nicol-Wilson |

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During a recent weekend, I was hanging out with my friends and catching up on life. One of my long-term guy friends mentioned he had become a blood donor and had been giving blood for several months. However, he couldn’t donate at his last session because of low iron, so he’s working on increasing his levels.

The news took me aback because my friend said he was donating because of me. From the outside looking in, it probably isn’t surprising that someone I know donated blood, considering that I have sickle cell disease — a condition that can require blood transfusions. However, when I started my advocacy journey in 2018, only some friends and acquaintances were receptive to donating blood.

Some of them quickly booked a session once I explained why blood donations were necessary for the treatment of sickle cell. This energy encouraged my advocacy because I was making a tiny difference.

With other audiences, it felt like my words were falling on deaf ears. I was met with excuses or false promises. I had assumed this friend was in the latter category because he didn’t donate back in 2018. Now, in 2024, I am delighted to say I was wrong; my words and actions led to change.

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Watching the seeds I planted grow

This moment reflected what I tell many advocates, myself included: Don’t feel discouraged if it seems like your message wasn’t received. In my advocacy, I’ve received many negative responses when I encourage people to donate. Still, I tell myself I have planted a seed of awareness each time. When will the seed grow, and how? I have no idea, but I’ve at least taken action and planted it.

I’ve always said that my goal for my advocacy is not to have to do it anymore. A world with enough blood donors and quality healthcare for all sickle cell patients would allow me to rest.

Recently, I’ve been questioning whether I’m doing enough, or if there’s more I can do for my community, because many patients are still suffering. But this news encouraged me to continue my efforts. I’m grateful to my friend, who was initially motivated by me and now has poured motivation back into me. This cycle of positive action allows my friend to save many lives.

I am grateful to all blood donors for your time and blood. Thank you so much.

Note: Sickle Cell Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sickle Cell Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sickle cell disease.


Batuli avatar


Wow well done ✅

David E White Sr. MPH, DrPH (ABD) avatar

David E White Sr. MPH, DrPH (ABD)

I always enjoy your articles. I have been an advocate for those who suffer with SCD. For the past 5 years I have worked in the pharmaceutical/Bio-technology learning the science and the human experiences of sickle cell disease. I hold a golf tournament that raises funds for advocacy for community awareness of resources and provides scholarship and other essential resources. I am fueled by the perseverance of my young brothers and sisters who succeed regardless of their health challenges. This year on June 9th I will hold another tournament to support the SCD community. Blessings David


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