Sickle Cell advocates urge public to donate blood

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)–Saturday is World Sickle Cell Awareness Day and advocates in the Upstate are doing their part. But, low blood supplies are effecting this vulnerable population.

Its a way to give back and to raise awareness.

“This is just our way of shining a light on sickle cell,” Rhonda Young, the Executive Director of the L.D. Barksdale Sickle Cell Foundation, said. “We have monthly support groups, we provide financial assistance and so many other opportunities for patients with sickle cell disease.”

In the Upstate, Prisma Health treats more than 400 people with Sickle Cell through blood transfers.

“You’re talking about a patient who may receive up to five or eight units per infusion,” Tranaka Fuqua, the clinical research nurse coordinator for the Sickle Cell program at Prisma Health said.

But, with an incredibly low blood supply in the Upstate, that’s become a huge task.

“So if our blood supply is very low, which it is right now the chances of having those units for sickle cell patients, its slim,” Allie Van Dyke, with The Blood Connection said.

As the exclusive blood provider for Upstate hospitals, The Blood Connection needs supply for many different types of treatments and emergencies.

“There are times, and it’s happening right now, where doctors have to tell a patient they have to wait because they don’t have that right unit,” Van Dyke said.

Sickle Cell effects predominantly African Americans, but can impact people of any race.

“So the more people we can have come out and donate, the better the chances we can service who we actually need to service,” Fuqua said.

Saturday’s event is for those patients, to give them a sense of community and resources to help. And organizers say those who aren’t effected by Sickle Cell should consider giving blood to do their part.

“We want to encourage everyone that can to please go out and give blood,” Young said.

“Everyone can have a role in helping, as a matter of fact, we all have to have a role in helping,” Fuqua said.

Patients who come to Saturday’s event will receive an emergency toolkit filled with wellness supplies to make living with Sickle Cell a little easier. Saturday’s event runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Long Branch Baptist Church on Bolt Street in Greenville.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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