Published by Kirby Winn on Wednesday, June 19, 2024 in News Releases

On June 19, ImpactLife is emphasizing the important role blood donors can play in treating patients with sickle cell disease. The Juneteenth Federal holiday celebrating the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States is also recognized as World Sickle Cell Awareness Day with the goal to increase public knowledge of sickle cell disease and the challenges experienced by patients and caregivers.

Tiffani Jackson is a patient living with sickle cell disease and a blood donation advocate. In this video, she describes what it's like to experience a painful sickle cell crisis and the relief a blood transfusion can bring.

Patients with Sickle Cell Disease frequently receive transfusions of red blood cells to help treat symptoms of a sickle cell crisis. But finding appropriately matched units for sickle cell disease patients is a challenge for blood providers. With more frequent blood transfusions, patients with sickle cell disease can develop antibodies that are directed against red blood cell antigens.

Ashley Reed

This process, called alloimmunization, makes it important for patients to receive antigen-negative blood types that are more generally found in donors of African descent. To help increase the diversity of the blood center’s donor base, ImpactLife has created a donor program called Red4Life. Under Red4Life, the blood center identifies and recruits donors who may be an appropriate antigen match for patients with Sickle Cell Disease. These donors are then invited to join the Red4Life program and receive special donor rewards and additional points to use in the ImpactLife Donor Loyalty Store. (Learn more at

AABB News feature article on Red4Life (.pdf)

About Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle Cell Awareness Day graphicSickle 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.

About Juneteenth (June 19)
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 signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862, 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. (Learn more.)

About ImpactLife
ImpactLife is a nonprofit community organization providing blood services to more than 120 hospitals and emergency medical service providers in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin, as well as resource sharing partners across the country. The blood center operates 23 Donor Centers and holds approximately 5000 mobile blood drives annually to provide blood components needed by hospitals and in pre-hospital emergency response throughout our region.

For more information on blood inventories and donor promotions, see and find us @impactlifeblood on Facebook, X, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn.


Additional resources

What is Sickle Cell Disease? (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
AABB News Release: Transforming Sickle Cell Care
U.S. Blood Donation Statistics (America's Blood Centers)


Sickle Cell Disease  Blood transfusions are used to treat patients in a sickle cell crisis  SCD sq

did you know?

  • Sickle cell disease 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. Reference
  • Sickle cell disease is estimated to occur in 1 of every 365 black or African-American births and 1 out of every 16,300 Hispanic-American births. Reference
  • Sickle cell disease causes the body to create abnormal hemoglobin and abnormally ‘sickle’ shaped red blood cells that causes pain and numerous health complication. 
  • More than 100 million people worldwide have the sickle cell trait. They carry only one abnormal gene (unlike two with sickle cell disease) and typically live normal lives. Rarely, extreme conditions such as severe dehydration and high-intensity physical activity can lead to serious health issues, including sudden death, for individuals with sickle cell trait. Reference
  • Although there is no cure for Sickle Cell Disease, blood transfusions are a critical part of treatment and can relieve the pain and complications that occur during a sickle cell crises. 
  • Thalassemia is also inherited blood disorder caused when the body doesn’t make enough hemoglobin. It is a treatable disorder that can be well-managed with blood transfusions and chelation therapy. Reference

About The Author

Kirby Winn

Kirby Winn serves as Manager, Public Relations for ImpactLife. He enjoys working with media across the blood center's service region to share the stories of patients who have been helped by the generous volunteers who support our mission.

See more by this author