Published by Kirby Winn on Friday, June 17, 2022 in News Releases
June 19, known as Juneteenth in the United States and World Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Day across the globe, is an important day to celebrate and promote diversity in our communities and among blood donors. The date recognizes both the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States and is recognized by the American Sickle Cell Disease Association as a day to raise awareness of the genetically inherited disease and its disproportionate impact on people of African descent.
“Diversity within our donor base is important because we serve a diverse population,” says Amanda Hess, Vice President, Donor and Public Relations. “Blood types are genetically inherited, and patients who receive blood transfusions need to have blood components that come from volunteer donors who are a close genetic match. That’s why on June 19 we celebrate both Juneteenth as well as World Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Day. Both remind us of the importance of diversity within our volunteer donor base and the communities we serve.”
About Sickle Cell Disease
Sickle Cell Disease 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 descent. The red blood cells in patients with sickle cell disease can become “sickled” in shape, which can cause the cells to become stuck in small blood vessels. 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 to relieve symptoms.
Donors Make a Difference: Transfusion Recipient Tiffani Jackson Skinner
Blood transfusions are often given to patients in a sickle cell crisis and one in three African American blood donors are likely to be a blood type match for patients with sickle cell disease. Transfusion recipient Tiffani Jackson Skinner shares her story:
“Sickle cell attacks threaten your oxygen, it makes it feel like glass is being shattered all over your body, and you really just don’t know if you’re going to survive the attack once it happens. When I get to the hospital and all pain treatments have been exhausted, meaning no medications are helping, nothing is working, blood does. It’s the most hopeful feeling in the world to know that I get a second chance at life because someone else thought about me.
“Sickle Cell Anemia is a disease that has historically affected minority communities. So that means we need a diverse pool of donations. If you are willing to donate, please contact ImpactLife. It will really make a difference.”
To schedule an appointment for donation, please call (800) 747-5401, schedule online at www.bloodcenter.org, or via the ImpactLife mobile app (www.bloodcenter.org/app).
Long celebrated in the African American community, Juneteenth was officially recognized as a Federal holiday in 2021. The holiday commemorates the day when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, were notified of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1865. While the proclamation freeing enslaved people was issued by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, Confederate troops and slaveholders in states that had seceded from the Union did not observe the proclamation until Union soldiers arrived to liberate the enslaved people, the last of whom received the news in Galveston on June 19, 1865.
Donors are invited to join ImpactLife in recognizing World Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Day by scheduling a donation during the week of June 20. To thank those who schedule appointments at this critical time of year, ImpactLife will provide all presenting donors through July 10 with a voucher redeemable for the donor’s choice of a gift card or 500 bonus points to use in the ImpactLife Donor Rewards Store. (Gift card options include Amazon, The Home Depot, Lowe’s, Target, Subway, Starbucks, and Walmart.) Learn more at www.bloodcenter.org/promotions.
To help increase the availability of blood components for sickle cell patients, ImpactLife launched its Red4Life donor program in 2021. Under the new program, donors whose blood is tested and identified as an appropriate antigen match for patients with Sickle Cell Disease are invited to become a Red4Life donor. After making their fourth donation each year, Red4Life donors receive an additional 800 points to use in the ImpactLife Donor Loyalty Store. For more information, see www.bloodcenter.org/sickle.
ImpactLife is a not-for-profit community organization providing blood services to 124 hospitals in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin, as well as resource sharing partners across the country. Services extend from southcentral Wisconsin to St. Louis, Missouri and from Danville, Illinois to Chariton, Iowa. (See a map of the ImpactLife service region.) ImpactLife operates 22 Donor Centers and holds approximately 5000 mobile blood drives annually to provide blood components needed for patient transfusions at hospitals throughout our region.
For more information, see www.bloodcenter.org and find us @impactlifeblood on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Twitter, Snapchat, and YouTube.