African American blood donors needed to help battle Sickle Cell Anemia

African American donors are needed

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The American Red Cross is at a critical level for blood donations, specifically from African Americans to help combat a blood disease.

Ronnika McFall with the American Red Cross said September is sickle cell awareness month, and now more than ever, people battling this disease need help.

“Sickle cell disease is the most common inherited blood disorder in the United States, and about one hundred thousand people of various racial and ethnic backgrounds are living with sickle cell disease, most of whom are African or Latino descent," McFall said.

McFall also said they need African Americans to donate blood because many people from this background have rare blood types, and this blood is a lifesaver for those in need.

“Red blood cells carry markers on their surface called antigens that determines blood type. Some are unique to specific racial and ethnic groups," she said.

What happened to the blood supply? McFall said COVID-19 is to blame.

“We believe that’s because of blood drive cancellations at churches and other black businesses," she said. "Especially the disproportionate rate of COVID-19 infection amongst African Americans.”

For Dr. J.R. Nicholson who is a hematologist at Clearview Cancer Institute, he said just a little prick on your arm could mean life for another person.

“It can be truly lifesaving for them," Nicholson said. "If they are extremely anemic, they need these red blood cells. Red blood cells help oxygenate the body.”

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