Dr. Drew Video)
African-American leaders like Dr. Charles Drew and
Dr. Jerome Holland helped build the foundation for modern blood
Dr. Drew conducted groundbreaking research in blood storage and
preservation that is still relied on today. His appointment as the
medical director of the “Plasma for Britain” project during
World War II saved the lives of thousands of soldiers and
Dr. Holland’s distinguished career led to the creation of the
Jerome H. Holland Laboratory in Maryland, one of the world’s
leading blood research institutes.
Why Donate? | What Is Sickle Cell Disease
| Patient Testimonials
Why should African-Americans donate
Increasing African-American donations is vital because blood
types O and B, the blood types of about 70 percent of
African-Americans, are also the blood types most in demand.
Researchers have found that African-Americans are under-represented
among blood donors, and that minority donors in general are less
likely to become regular donors. Genetically-similar blood is
preferred for those who need repeated blood transfusions, and for
conditions like sickle cell disease (SCD), which primarily affects
African-Americans. Blood that closely matches a patient’s is less
likely to be rejected by the patient and can mean fewer
complications after a transfusion.
Furthermore, thousands of patients with leukemia and other
life-threatening diseases often need a bone marrow or umbilical
cord blood transplant. Adding more donors and cord blood units from
diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds to the National Marrow Donor
Program’s Be The Match Registry (available through Florida’s Blood
Centers) increases the likelihood that all patients will find the
match they need.
Queens mother calls for
(The Queens Courier
A single mother from Queens and
the New York Blood Center are calling for more African-Americans to
become blood donors.
Davina Daniels, 37, of Springfield Gardens suffers from sickle cell
disease and has had difficulty finding donors who match her blood
type for a transfusion.
“We need more African Americans
to become blood donors, and give blood regularly,” said Melinda
Caltabiano, director of New York Blood Center’s PreciseMatch
Program citing the fact that there is only one matching active
donor for Daniels, an African-American.
For people with sickle cell
disease, repeated blood tranfusions are vital to replace their
“sickled” blood cells with healthy red blood cells. As more
transfusions take place, patients build up antibodies in their
blood, thus requiring more precisely matched red-blood
transfusions. These matches often come from people from the same
ethnic and racial backgrounds.
is sickle cell disease (SCD)?
is the most common genetic disease in the African-American
community. SCD affects approximately 1 in 396 African-American
newborns and approximately 72,000 persons in the United States.
SCD is an inherited blood disorder that affects red blood cells.
People with SCD have red blood cells that contain mostly hemoglobin
S, an abnormal type of hemoglobin. Sometimes these red blood cells
become sickle-shaped (crescent shaped) and have difficulty passing
through small blood vessels.
When sickle-shaped cells block small blood vessels, less blood can
reach that part of the body. Tissue that does not receive a normal
blood flow eventually becomes damaged. This is what causes the
complications of SCD. There is currently no universal cure for
African-American blood donors are more likely to be a match for the
majority of individuals with SCD in the United States, making them
ideal donors to help SCD patients receiving regular blood
In other words, blood from donors of the same ethnic background
decreases the chance of causing complications or reactions for
patients with SCD.
When Justin was a baby he would scream, cry and
hold out his hand whenever he was suffering from pain related to
sickle cell disease (SCD). Doctors diagnosed him with the incurable
disease when he was just a year old. Justin needs fresh red blood
cells from matching donors to replace his sickle shaped cells.
Justin is 14 years old now and despite the disease he can enjoy
typical teenage activities such as listening to music and playing
football. He keeps his SCD under control with folic acid, vitamins
and by staying hydrated, but he always knows when he’s about to
experience pain. He says it’s almost unbearable, but he usually
feels better while being transfused with blood from donors.
Justin’s mother and sister also have the sickle cell trait, but
so far they have not experienced a crisis. Justin must cope with
SCD the rest of his life. With no cure in sight he knows more blood
transfusions are likely in his future.
Like many sixth graders, Ciera Nesmith loves
cheerleading, spending time with friends and creating new outfits.
But, unlike most girls her age, Ciera spent almost half of her life
in the hospital. Ciera suffers from sickle cell anemia which means
her red blood cells are sickle or crescent shaped. They are stiff
and sticky and can form clumps that get lodged in her blood
vessels. This blocks blood flow causing pain, organ damage and even
When Ciera’s sickle cell disease flares up she says it feels
like someone is pounding or stabbing her. She relies on blood
from donors to increase the “normal” red blood cells in her
As with any blood transfusion the patient and donor have to be a
match. In Ciera’s case, it’s easier to find a match for her in the
African American community because people from the same ethnic
background are more like to have blood that contain similar factors
and antigens. Ciera will live with sickle cell anemia the rest of
her life. There is no cure for the disease and blood transfusions
are a necessity in order for her to stay alive.
Terrell's Story (Watch
Terrell Wilson said his 21st birthday was the best
birthday he ever had. He posed for pictures with the Orlando
Magic cheerleaders, danced with Bo Outlaw and even talked to Dwight
Howard on the phone, but this once in a life time birthday party
would be his last.
Doctors diagnosed Terrell with leukemia after he developed a
cold and flu-like symptoms he just couldn’t shake. He relied
on blood and platelets to get through chemotherapy treatment, but
what Terrell really needed was a bone marrow match. He spent weeks
on end in the hospital waiting on a match that never came
Florida’s Blood Centers Chief Medical Affairs Officer, Dr. Tisha
Foster says, “In order to find the right match that the
transplant can be successful they’re most likely to find a match
within their own ethnicity, so it’s really important that we have a
variety of ethnicities on the bone marrow registry in which to
choose from for these patients.”
Terrell passed away on Christmas Day 2009, but his legacy lives
on as his story continues to inspire people to donate blood and
join the National Bone Marrow Registry.
Video of Recent Summit)
Some of the most influential African-American
leaders in Central Florida are helping save local lives. Florida's
Blood Centers recently recruited prominent leaders in the community
to help educate African-Americans about the importance of blood
donations. Their ideas will be used to encourage other
African-Americans to roll up their sleeves and give the gift of