By Christy Peters, External Communications Manager, Northern Ohio Biomedical Services
June 19, 2020- In the U.S., about 100,000 people of various racial and ethnic backgrounds are living with sickle cell disease, most of whom are of African or Latino descent, such as Glinda Dames Fincher of Mayfield Heights. African American blood donors are vital for many patients with rare blood types, like those with sickle cell disease, who depend on blood that must be matched very closely – beyond the A, B, O and AB blood types – to reduce the risk of complications.
Since mid-March, the number of African Americans donating blood with the Red Cross has dropped by more than half. This low donor turnout is largely due to blood drive cancellations at businesses, churches and schools and the disproportionate COVID-19 infection rates for African Americans compared to other groups.
Despite the decline in blood donations from African American donors, the need for blood products for patients with sickle cell disease has remained steady. Without a readily available blood supply, sickle cell patients can experience severe pain, tissue and organ damage, acute anemia and even strokes. Furthermore, sickle cell patients are at high risk of serious complications from coronavirus infection, and blood transfusion can be a lifesaving treatment for these patients.
The American Red Cross encourages healthy individuals to make appointments to donate blood to ensure blood remains readily available for patients who still rely on transfusions during this uncertain time. Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including social distancing and face coverings for donors and staff – have been implemented to ensure the health of all those in attendance.
Make an appointment
Healthy individuals who are feeling well are asked to make an appointment to donate in the weeks and months ahead by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive and are required to wear a face covering or mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance.
Blood donation sites in Northern Ohio include:
- The Warzel Donation Center – 3747 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115
- The Parma Donation Center – 5585 Pearl Road, Parma, Ohio 44129
- The Summit Donation Center – 501 W. Market Street, Akron, Ohio, 44303
- The Toledo Donation Center – 3510 Executive Parkway, Toledo, Ohio 43606