Sickle Cell Donor Program
About sickle cell disease
Sickle cell disease is a life-long blood disorder in which a person’s body produces crescent-shaped red blood cells, as opposed to normal donut-shaped cells. Sickle cells can clump together, blocking the flow of blood and oxygen. When blood flow is blocked, a person can experience extreme pain, strokes, and even organ damage.
Finding a match for sickle cell warriors
Sickle cell disease is caused by inheriting two abnormal hemoglobin genes—one from each parent. People who inherit just one abnormal gene carry the sickle cell trait but do not have symptoms. 1 in 365 African-Americans are born with sickle cell disease, and 1 in 13 are born with sickle cell trait. For those with the disease, multiple blood transfusions can be the only relief from frequent episodes of pain and complications. Despite this, people who receive frequent transfusions are at risk of developing antibodies against donated blood. For those individuals, finding a donor whose antigens match theirs becomes increasingly difficult.
Since sickle cell disease is hereditary, donors of the same ethnic backgrounds are more likely to have similar blood characteristics. For this reason, African-Americans are more likely to provide the best unique match for people living with sickle cell disease.
Blood donors who are sickle trait negative may be eligible to give a very special gift to someone battling the pain of sickle cell. Memorial Blood Centers’ Sickle Cell Donor Program uses an extensive blood typing process to screen donors and match their blood to patients in need.
Please consider asking to be typed at your next donation to find out if you are a candidate for sickle cell donations, and check yes to this question on your health history questionnaire. People of African-American descent are especially needed for this program. You can also learn how your gift helps kids like Teresa and what you can do to help others in our community battling this painful disease by calling 1-888-282-1884.