What is Sickle Cell Disease? How can we fight it?

Sickle Cell Disease is an inherited disorder that affects the function of red blood cells in about 100,000 Americans. The disease, which disproportionately affects African-Americans, has no widely reliable cure.

While healthy red blood cells are circular, Sickle Cell Disease distorts cells into a sickle shape. These abnormally-shaped cells are not flexible and can stick to blood vessel walls, causing a blockage in the flow of blood, and thus a blockage in oxygen to the tissue.

This causes sudden sever pains and, in the long term, can cause organ damage. The life expectancy for an American living with Sickle Cell Disease is 40-60 years.

So what can we do to fight Sickle Cell Disease and help those battling?

It’s pretty simple actually: Donate blood.

Red blood cells in a patient with Sickle Cell Disease die much quicker than normal blood cells. As a result, the body can’t keep up with production quickly enough. So patients need frequent blood transfusions.

Studies show that patients who receive blood from donors who more closely match their ethnicity fair much better. And so as we fight a disease that disproportionately affects African Americans, it’s especially important to increase African American blood donors.

According to the American Red Cross, while five percent of the total eligible U.S. population gives blood, only around one percent of the Black community donates.

You can make a difference right now. Join us for our annual Spring Community Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Blood Drive:

Friday, Feb. 26

12:00 – 4:00pm

Location: Urban League of Greater Madison
2222 Park Street #200

We’re looking for donors of all ages and ethnic backgrounds! Appointments are strongly encouraged and you can make one online at redcrossblood.org using sponsor code “Madison Sickle Cell.” Walk-ins are also welcome.

Click here to learn more about our Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Blood Drives.