Sickle Cell Disease is the most common hereditary blood disorder, occurring in African-Americans at a rate of approximately 3 in every 1,000 live births. The severe form of Sickle Cell Disease is estimated to affect more than 50,000 African-Americans.
The disease causes the body to create abnormal hemoglobin, the protein that allows red blood cells to carry oxygen. Upon transferring oxygen to body tissue, the abnormal hemoglobin sticks together, causing red blood cells to become stiff and form a “sickle” shape. These sickled cells can block blood flow when they become stuck in blood vessels.
While normal red blood cells have a 120-day life span, sickle-shaped blood cells usually live for no more than 20 days. When bone marrow cannot produce enough red blood cells to make up for lost sickled cells, severe anemia may develop.
While Sickle Cell Disease can lead to numerous health problems, including pain, infections, anemia and stroke, many people who have Sickle Cell Disease learn to manage the disease and thus maintain a good quality of life.
Although there is no cure, treatment options include painkillers, antibiotics and blood transfusions, which replenish the supply of healthy red cells to replace the sickled cells. As a result, painful Sickle Cell Crises and organ damage are reduced or even eliminated.
More than half of all persons with Sickle Cell Disease will require a blood transfusion in their lifetime and the majority of those require multiple transfusions, using an average of four units each month.
Although blood type or compatibility is not generally based on race, select rare blood types that are more generally found in African-Americans are needed to support patients with Sickle Cell Disease. Nationally, the number of African-Americans who need blood transfusions exceeds the number of African-Americans who donate blood. Regular blood donations by African-Americans will support individuals with Sickle Cell Disease in our community.
To schedule a blood donation, please use our online scheduling system or call (800) 747-5401.
Click on the links for information on donor eligibility and blood donation process.
American Sickle Cell Anemia FoundationSickle Cell Disease Association of AmericaNational Heart, Lung and Blood Institute