Multi-Organization Partnership to Encourage Blood Donation and SCD Awareness

Vijaya Iyer, PhD avatar

by Vijaya Iyer, PhD |

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A five-year partnership among The Sickle Cell Disease Association of America (SCDAA), the Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia (SCFG), and the American Red Cross has been launched to encourage blood donation, with focus on African-Americans.

As part of the partnership, educational campaigns to generate awareness about sickle cell disease have been established.

“Sickle Cell Disease Association of America is excited about this new partnership and the impact it can have on saving lives,” Beverley Francis-Gibson, president and CEO of SCDAA, said in a press release.

“The Red Cross is proud to partner with the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America and Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia,” said Vincent Edwards, national director, Red Cross Biomedical Services.

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a group of inherited blood disorders caused by a mutation in the beta-globin gene, which results in abnormal hemoglobin. Sickle cell anemia is the most common and severe type of SCD, requiring frequent blood transfusions.

SCD is prevalent in the African-American population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, SCD affects one in every 365 African-American births in the United States.

“This partnership will provide new opportunities to not only inform and educate the public about sickle cell conditions, but also to activate and engage the African-American community about the immense importance of donating blood,” Francis-Gibson said.

Community-based organizations, colleges and universities, hospitals, advocacy groups, and others will be included in this campaign as part of the partnership to attain the goal of organizing 100 blood drives per year and collecting at least 30 units of blood per drive.

Blood donation drives will welcome all donors and specifically encourage those of African-American descent.

“African-American people who require blood transfusions from being injured or ill — including those with sickle cell disease — all depend on a stable blood supply, and ideally, blood that closely matches their own,” said Deb McGhee McCrary, president and CEO of SCFG. “This is why it is important for African-Americans to donate and receive blood from other African-Americans.”

Edwards said, “A diverse blood supply is critical to being able to help all patients in need. Blood from people of a similar race and ethnicity as the patient can provide the best health outcomes and least transfusion complications.”

Over 15,000 blood donations are anticipated through the five-year partnership with the American Red Cross, according to the release.