AURORA, Ill., April 14, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Heartland Blood Centers, the largest blood provider in the Chicagoland area, has announced a partnership with the Sickle Cell Disease Association of Illinois (SCDAI) to drive awareness for sickle cell disease and the need for African American blood donors, provide accurate education and increase the amount of blood available for treatment of sickle cell disease.
The "Red is Life" program launches in April to coincide with National Minority Health month. Sickle cell disease is an inherited disorder that affects the hemoglobin in the red blood cells and patients often require many blood transfusions during their lifetime due to the lack of healthy red cells in their own body. More than 70,000 Americans live with sickle cell disease, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, and many others may have the trait, but are asymptomatic. Although sickle cell disease can occur in any ethnic group, historically it has shown a higher prevalence in persons of African American descent. Currently, less than 1% of national annual blood donations come from persons of African American descent.
"As the mother of a 13 year-old with sickle cell disease, I'm acutely aware of the need for blood donations to help treat those living with the disease," said TaLana Hughes, executive director of SCDAI. "African American donors have the ability to increase the quality of life of those affected by sickle cell disease and we hope many will heed our call to donate blood."
As part of this partnership, Heartland Blood Centers will host Red is Life blood drives within the Chicagoland area's African American community, participate in SCDAI's annual Management of Sickle Cell Disease Conference to inform the community of current advances in treatment options and launch a public awareness campaign via local media.
"We want to provide the best holistic care to the patients and families affected by sickle cell disease," said Amy Smith, director of donor recruitment of Heartland Blood Centers. "While blood transfusion reduces symptoms, the disease itself does not go away, so it's imperative that we continue our research to find new treatments."
Studies have shown that blood donated from someone of the same ethnicity as the patient reduces the risk of complications during transfusion. In patients who receive multiple blood transfusions, donor patient compatibility is crucial as transfusion related complications can lead to organ failure and even death. Heartland Blood Centers urges all ethnicities to donate on behalf of those in your communities that are in need. learn more about the other aspects of the "Red is Life" program, visit www.heartlandbc.org.
About Heartland Blood Centers
Heartland Blood Centers, established in 1943, is a not-for-profit, independent blood center serving the Greater Chicago area and Northwest Indiana. They provide service to 65 hospitals in 12 counties including Kane, McHenry, DeKalb, Will, DuPage, Cook, Grundy, Kendall, Lee, Ogle and LaSalle in Illinois, and Lake County in Indiana. Heartland operates under a volunteer donor system with the goal of collecting more than 160,000 units of blood annually. Heartland's first commitment is to meet local blood needs and 100 percent of blood donated is returned to the communities served by Heartland. As participants in a nationwide resource sharing program, Heartland stands ready to assist other parts of the country during severe blood shortages, national emergencies and increased demands by the armed services. For more information about Heartland or how to donate blood, visit heartlandbc.org or call 1-800-7 TO-GIVE.
SOURCE Heartland Blood Centers