GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – It’s Sickle Cell Awareness Month and the Red Cross is urging eligible donors to give blood to help ensure a stable and diverse blood supply for patients in need.
Red blood cells carry markers that determine one’s blood type and some blood types are unique to certain racial and ethnic groups.
When it comes to sickle cell anemia, blood donors from the same ethnic background as the recipient are less likely to cause problems.
“If we can match the blood product closer to the patient in need,the more able they are to recover faster, [with] less interactions and less reactions,” said Casey Stevens, Red Cross account manager.
The Red Cross said whether blood is needed for a chronic condition, a surgical procedure, or a large scale emergency, it’s the blood already on the shelves that helps to save lives. So regardless of what month it is, they need all types of blood donors.
The Red Cross is making it easier for you to donate. And patients who need it most are telling their stories to encourage you to give the gift of life.
“When I was in high school, I would give blood whenever I could,” explained Abbey Ghaewski, who can’t give blood. “It was just a good feeling giving blood and knowing that I was helping someone.”
“I did it for my soccer team and it was because everyone did it,” said Sydney May, fears giving blood.
Ghaewski and May are friends with two different reasons of why they no longer give blood.
“So what changed, I was diagnosed with blood clots and I’m on blood thinners, so I can’t donate anymore,” Ghaewki explained.
And for May, she said she has a fear, “Because I’m scared of needles! Why? Because they hurt. Or if there was numbing, I would definitely do it”
That’s a myth that Red Cross officials said is simply not true. They want to get the word out that giving blood is painless and easy.
“They’re scared,” acknowledged Stevens. “That’s the biggest that we hear. But we always like to say it’s better to be on this end of the table than on the receiving end.”
Stevens said no matter what month it is, there’s always a need for blood donations and the Red Cross has made it easier for everyone to donate.
“We’ve got some great tools that are out there,” explained Stevens. “Rapid pass, if they do that online, it will save them 15 minutes. Making an appointment online is really easy. We even have a donor app.”
As for those who would benefit from your time and blood, Ghaewski hopes her diagnosis could persuade her friends to donate more.
“My medical issue gets brought up a lot,” she added. “I feel like, if I was in a situation to where I needed it, my friends would stop everything give blood for me.”
You can donate blood every fifty-two, so roll up your sleeve and go give the gift of life.
Donors are encouraged to make appointments at redcrossblood.org to help reduce wait times. And while you’re on the site, you can find a full listing of upcoming blood donation opportunities across the east.