ST. PAUL, Minn., Aug. 30, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Local nonprofit Memorial Blood Centers is partnering with the community this September to observe Sickle Cell Awareness Month and highlight the need for blood donors to help break the cycle of pain for those fighting this chronic disease. Along with the Minnesota Vikings, University of Minnesota, and Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Memorial Blood Centers is hosting special blood donation events and urging all sickle cell negative blood donors to step up and give.
About 1 in every 500 African-American infants is born with sickle cell—an inherited red blood cell disorder in which the body makes an abnormal hemoglobin molecule. Latino babies and other newborns of Middle Eastern, Greek, Italian, and Indian decent are affected as well. While many people living with sickle cell disease lead full and productive lives, they face constant challenges—from crisis episodes of severe pain to physical complications and frequent hospitalization. Although there is no cure, regular blood transfusions are a major component of treatment for the pain that often results from a life-threatening episode.
Local hospitals—including Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota—rely on Memorial Blood Centers to provide nearly 1,000 units of sickle trait negative blood annually to save and sustain the lives of newborns, children and adults. "That's why we make an effort throughout the year—and especially each September—to spread the word about the importance of blood donation to help patients battle this chronic, life-threatening disease," Ken Kieffer, Vice President of Collections, Recruitment, and Production Planning at Memorial Blood Centers said. "And this year, along with our blood drive partners, we're especially pleased to have support from Ameriprise. Thanks to their generous funding we've been able to expand our reach into the community with this important message to donate blood."
For Rae Blaylark, instructional trainer with Memorial Blood Centers and Vice-President of the Board of Sickle Cell Disease Advocates of Minnesota [http://www.scdam.org/], the battle against this disease is personal. "My son, Treyvon—now a young teenager of 16—is alive today because generous blood donors were there since birth. Trey continues to be someone whose life is sustained by the generosity of donors."
Both Rae and Trey are active spokespeople for Memorial Blood Centers' Sickle Cell Donor Program, a registry of blood donors who have voluntarily been tested and identified as sickle cell trait negative. "The more often Trey and kids like him are transfused, the more likely he is to develop resistance to donated blood," Rae added. "However, healthy blood from donors of similar ethnic origin increases compatibility and helps to decrease transfusion-related reactions later in life. That's why this program is so valuable. It takes steps to carefully match blood donors with patients needing transfusions."
Special blood donation events in September make it easy to help save lives and all eligible blood donors are encouraged to give generously. To make an appointment, call 1-888-GIVE-BLD or register online at www.MBC.org/sicklecell.
About Memorial Blood Centers
Memorial Blood Centers has been saving lives for over 60 years as an independent nonprofit supplying life-saving blood to area hospitals and other partners throughout the U.S. Operating 11 donor centers and conducting hundreds of blood drives each month, Memorial Blood Centers also provides comprehensive testing and expert technical services as a national leader in transfusion medicine. For more information, call 888-GIVE-BLD or visit MBC.org.
SOURCE Memorial Blood Centers