Published by Kirby Winn on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 in News Releases
Funding supports new mobile collection unit and increased outreach to communities impacted by Sickle Cell Disease
(April 7, 2021 | Earth City, Missouri) – Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center (MVRBC) has received funding for new equipment and programming to enhance the Blood Center’s outreach to communities impacted by Sickle Cell Disease. The Bridgeton Landfill Community Project Fund, a component fund of the St. Louis Community Foundation, has awarded MVRBC a grant of $480,899 for projects intended to improve awareness and knowledge of the need for blood donors to support treatment for Sickle Cell Disease.
The grant will fund the purchase of a new mobile collection unit (Donor Coach, or bloodmobile), which will increase the Blood Center’s capacity for scheduling mobile blood drives in communities impacted by Sickle Cell Disease. The grant will also pay for a sustained, three-year marketing campaign focused on recruitment and retention of African American blood donors and increased expenses for serological testing as additional donors are added to the Blood Center’s donor base.
About Sickle Cell Disease
Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is an inherited blood disorder that affects red blood cells. It is the most common hereditary disorder and currently affects more than 100,000 Americans, predominantly people of African, Middle Eastern, Grecian, Indian, and Latin American descent. The red blood cells in patients with sickle cell disease can become “sickled in shape, which makes them rigid and sticky, causing them to get stuck in small blood vessels,” said Dr. Daniela Hermelin, Medical Director of Transfusion Services at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital. “Patients can experience pain and anemia and are at increased risk for strokes and other types of organ damage. When patients experience a sickle cell crisis, red cell transfusion is a major form of therapy which provides healthy red cells to replace the hemolyzed ones.”
“However, alloimmunization (or the development antibodies directed against red blood cell antigens) after red blood cell transfusion does present an ongoing challenge in the treatment of SCD,” added Dr. Hermelin. “Improving red cell matching through growing our donor population, especially recruiting more donors of African descent, can help safely support our SCD patient population.”
Blood Donors Make a Difference!
Aniyah, a high school student in the St. Louis region, was diagnosed with sickle cell disease when she was just four months old. She describes her experience in the following terms: “Because I don’t look like I’m sick, doesn’t mean that I’m not sick. The pain, when you get it, it’s like something you can’t even describe.” Aniyah and her mother, Ashli, discuss her experience with Sickle Cell Disease in an MVRBC transfusion recipient profile.
The antigen-negative blood types needed for patients with sickle cell disease are more generally found in donors of African descent. In addition to the new mobile collection unit, the grant will fund a sustained, three-year marketing and outreach campaign designed to increase awareness and knowledge of sickle cell disease as well as blood donation by African American donors.
“As a blood provider for hospitals across the Metro region, we serve a broad cross section of the community. So we need to recruit a donor base that represents the community as a whole,” said Andrea Cole, Manager of Donor Relations for St. Louis, Missouri and Southwest Illinois. “This is especially important for providing a sufficient blood supply matched appropriately for patients with Sickle Cell Disease. Thanks to this grant, we will enhance our outreach and increase the number of blood drives we hold with populations that are impacted by Sickle Cell Disease.”
For more information, see www.bloodcenter.org/sickle.
About Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center
Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center (MVRBC) is the exclusive provider of blood products and services to 120 hospitals in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin, including more than two dozen hospitals across the St. Louis Metropolitan Region. These hospitals include the SSM Health System (including SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital, SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, SSM Health DePaul Hospital – St. Louis), Mercy (including Mercy Hospital Jefferson, Mercy Hospital Lincoln, Mercy Hospital St. Louis, Mercy Hospital South, and Mercy Hospital Washington), St. Luke’s Hospital in Chesterfield, and multiple locations of the Hospital Sisters Health System.
For more information, see www.bloodcenter.org and the Blood Center’s social media channels: www.facebook.com/MVRBC, www.twitter.com/willyougive, and www.youtube.com/MVRBC.