TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — There is now a critical blood shortage following countless blood drive cancellations during the pandemic.
During Black History Month, the American Red Cross is calling on African American blood donors to help patients battling sickle cell disease. It is the most common, genetic blood disease in the United States.
“It is most common amongst African Americans and Blacks,” said MaRico Tippett with the Southern Arizona Chapter of the American Red Cross.
He says about 100,000 people in the U.S. live with sickle cell disease and that most of them are of African descent.
“For African Americans, there’s a specific protein they have and this is particularly in concert with sickle cell, which is why the Red Cross is hosting a sickle cell campaign right now,” he explained.
He says blood transfusion is the most common treatment for this disease, but there’s a catch. Blood must be closely matched between the donor and patient to reduce the risk of complications. The matched blood will most likely be from a donor of the same race or ethnic group.
“Most Blacks, African Americans make donations at colleges, universities, etc. Due to the pandemic these have been canceled. So we’re at a critical shortage of having blood donors amongst the Black, African American community to come and donate blood,” he told KGUN9.
Tippett says the number of canceled American Red Cross blood drives have tripled compared to last year.
“So we are at a critical need, critical shortage especially amongst the African American community,” added Tippett.
He says giving blood is easy. You can sign-up online and donate every 57 days.
When you walk into an American Red Cross location, you will get your temperature checked, be signed in and start the donation process.
Here’s Tippett’s message to the community:
“If you are Black, African American, Latino, Hispanic, etc. go find a blood donation center, schedule an appointment and give blood. It’s really not costing you anything but about 30 minutes out of your day...but you’re, you’re literally saving lives,” he said.
For more information on how to donate, click here.