Sickle cell disease (SCD) is the most common genetic blood disorder in the United States. It affects over 100,000 Americans and approximately 3,500 people in D.C. and Maryland, the majority of whom are Black or African American. Blood transfusions are critical for people living with SCD to help reduce or prevent painful, sometimes life-threatening, complications. Unfortunately, there are frequent shortages of the right type of blood to meet this need. Because sickle cell patients often receive frequent transfusions, they build antibodies to blood, which results in increased risk of adverse reactions to the transfusion. Blood given to patients with rare blood types in particular must be matched very closely to reduce the risk of developing complications from transfusion therapy. A patient in need is more likely to find a compatible blood match from a donor of the same race or a similar ethnicity.
In 2020, the Red Cross collected 8,498 units of red blood cells from donors who self-identified as African American in our region (DC and MD). Those units were collected from 7,669 individual blood donations (some donors give more than one unit in a session), each of which is tested for compatibility for transfusion to a patient with sickle cell at a cost of approximately $77 per unit. $25,000 will help us test and process 325 units.
Your gift will help fund the in-depth testing, typing and matching necessary to provide blood to people living with sickle cell disease across the country everyday.