Vitalant & Joint Caucus of Black Elected Officials Urge Blood Donation During Sickle Cell Awareness Month
Congress has recognized September as National Sickle Cell Awareness Month annually since 1975 in an effort to bring awareness and attention to sickle cell disease, a debilitating and deadly inherited blood disorder which affects up to 100,000 Americans.
Individuals with sickle cell disease (SCD) suffer from chronic anemia caused by sickle-shaped red blood cells which die early and get stuck in small blood vessels preventing them from delivering oxygen throughout the body resulting in pain, infection, organ failure and even death.
The transfusion of red blood cells into a SCD patient is often part of the treatment as it helps lessen anemia and reduce the blood's viscosity, allowing it to flow more freely and ease disease symptoms. SCD is most common for African-Americans (one in every 365 births) and Hispanic-Americans (one in every 16,300 births).
To ensure there is blood available for patients in need, Vitalant and other members of the Illinois Coalition of Community Blood Centers are partnering with the Joint Caucus of Black Elected Officials to encourage life-saving blood donations during the month of September.
The first Vitalant blood drive with the Joint Caucus of Black Elected Officials will take place from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 11, at the DuSable Museum, 740 E. 56th Place in Chicago. The date was carefully chosen to honor the victims of the terrorist attacks that occurred in New York City, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania 19 years earlier.
The second blood drive is scheduled for 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19, at Rehoboth Apostolic Worship Center, 9130 S. Vincennes Ave. in Chicago.
To comply with social distancing guidelines, appointments are strongly recommended. Schedule an appointment online or call 877.25VITAL. Use Group Code 0031 for the blood drive at the DuSable Museum and Group Code 954B for the drive at Reheboth Apostolic Worship Center.
Those who are unable to attend one of those drives can also visit any of Vitalant's 17 Chicagoland community donation centers during September and mention “Sickle Cell Disease” to show their support for SCD patients.
"Blood transfusions are used to treat severe anemia in sickle cell patients and to combat its associated tiredness, dizziness and difficulty breathing," said Martine Williams, Regional Director of Vitalant-Illinois. "The African-American community is one that is traditionally underrepresented when it comes to blood donations, so we hope to spread this important message across all of Illinois this September."
Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller and Illinois State Rep. LaShawn Ford echoed Williams’ sentiments calling for blood donors.
Rep. Ford and I are pleased to join the blood centers across Illinois to bring much-needed awareness to sickle cell disease and urge all eligible adults to donate blood to help their community,” Miller said. “It is a selfless act that only takes about an hour and can help save up to three lives.”
Learn about sickle cell disease in this first-hand account from Bridget Reynolds. Watch the video. Bridget implores all healthy adults to give blood and “be a hero.”
All successful blood donations are now tested for COVID-19 antibodies. If you test positive, you may be able to help COVID-19 patients with a convalescent plasma donation. Learn more here.
Learn more about sickle cell disease by visiting the Sickle Cell Disease Association of Illinois website.