Blood donors help people like Grace who needs 8 units of blood every 3-4 weeks to treat her sickle cell anemia. So far, she’s received more than 500 units of blood. Because of passionate blood donors, she’s able to enjoy a better quality of life while she searches for a cure. After years of not finding a match on the bone marrow registry, Grace was recently accepted into a gene therapy trial, which could potentially cure her sickle cell anemia.
Vitalant and City of Flagstaff PROSE are looking to raise awareness and increase much-needed blood donations from diverse blood donors through this blood drive celebrating Juneteenth.
An estimated 100,000 Americans, primarily of African descent, live with sickle cell disease in the United States and the disease affects 1 out of every 365 Black births. Although there is no cure, regular blood transfusions can help patients manage the intense pain and organ damage associated with the sickling of blood. Donors of all races are encouraged to donate blood, as many patients have rare blood types unique to certain races and ethnicities. Patients with rare blood types may depend on donors of the same race or similar ethnicity for the most compatible blood.
Vitalant urges all eligible and first-time donors to make an appointment to give, and ensure every patient who needs blood can be treated without delay. Every day, nonprofit Vitalant needs more than 600 donations to support Arizona patients, including those undergoing organ or blood marrow transplants. Blood, plasma and platelet transfusions save lives every day, providing patients battling various medical conditions with the necessary blood components to get better. Donations of all blood types are critical.
Donors who were previously deferred from donating because of travel to European countries, including Great Britain, due to the rick of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, also known as madcow disease, are now eligible to donate due to a change in FDA requirements.
Donors don’t need to know their blood type to help. In fact, new donors can learn their preliminary blood type during their first visit. Other added benefits of donating blood are a mini-physical and full panel of tests each donor receives. The mini-physical check of pulse, blood pressure, hemoglobin and cholesterol can be tracked with each visit in the donor’s secure and confidential online account. Donors who meet all eligibility requirements can be as young as 16 with parental consent, and there is no upper age limit.