(MEDIC Regional Blood Center) MEDIC works with local community groups and leaders to raise awareness about sickle cell disease and the continued need for blood products as the primary treatment for patients.
More than 100,000 Americans have sickle cell disease. Sickle cell patients often need blood transfusions, and these transfusions are a lifeline for them. When it comes to donating blood, minority donors are underrepresented and are less likely to become regular donors. Statistics show that African Americans make up 13% of the population, but only 3% donate blood.
Sickle cell disease causes red blood cells to be hard and crescent-shaped (like a sickle) instead of soft and round. This creates difficulty for the blood to flow smoothly and carry enough oxygen to the rest of the body. This can lead to severe pain, strokes, and organ damage. Blood transfusions help relieve pain during an attack and prevent further complications by increasing the number of healthy red blood cells in the body. This, in turn, helps deliver oxygen throughout the body and unlock blood vessels.
Blood donation is the first treatment. Because 1 in 3 African Americans is compatible with a sickle cell patient, diversifying the donor base is particularly important for our region.
“This is a great opportunity for MEDIC to serve our community through outreach and education initiatives while working with the Knox Area Urban League and other community leaders and groups,” said the Director of Communications. and public relations, Kristy Altman. “At any given time, we supply products for 2 to 5 patients. Each patient may need 4-5 units of blood at 3-4 week intervals. We hope to expand our minority donor base to increase the products available on our shelves. We hope this awareness campaign highlights an ongoing need in our community and we look forward to continuing the conversation in the years to come.
MEDIC staff and board members are available to speak to community groups about sickle cell disease, product needs and a family perspective. For more information about MEDIC Regional Blood Center, please visit our website at www.medicblood.org or contact Director of Communications Kristy Altman at [email protected] or by phone at 865-805-2008.