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‘Help one another’: Indy doctor, patient with Sickle Cell push for Black blood donors

World Sickle Cell Day is June 19
Blood donors
Posted at 11:05 PM, Jun 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-02 23:05:55-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Donating blood -- It’s a constant need for blood banks across Central Indiana.

Ahead of World Sickle Cell Day, a push for Black blood donors grows.

“I believe our purpose for being here is to help one another,” Sharon Hatcher-Hutchinson said. She is passionate about many things, and one is spreading awareness about Sickle Cell Disease.

“Living with sickle cell it’s very important to get blood transfusions. This is detrimental to your life. Without it, you can possibly die,” Hatcher-Hutchinson said.

The now 60-year-old who lives in Indianapolis was diagnosed with sickle cell disease when she was two. Throughout her lifetime, she estimates she has had some 300-400 blood transfusions.

Provided: Sharon Hatcher-Hutchinson

“There would be times when I would be inpatient and have a transfusion or even just go in and have transfusions,” Hatcher-Hutchinson said.

Dr. David Hedrick with the Indiana Hemophilia and Thrombosis Center treats hundreds of patients with SCD including Hatcher-Hutchinson. He said about 1,500 Hoosiers are living with the hereditary blood disorder, which impacts primarily the Black community.

“You’re more likely to do well and respond well to a transfusion if it comes from people who have a similar background of you,” Dr. Hedrick said. He notes “less than one-half of one percent of donated blood across the country comes from Black Americans.”

“Patients who have had to get their blood from Wisconsin or Texas because we can’t get their blood here because there isn’t a proper match here,” Dr. Hedrick said.

Both doctors and patients here are asking those willing and able to donate to do so, in order to help those living with sickle cell. They encourage those with concerns about the process to ask questions.

“All ethnicities please donate blood because you don’t know whose life you might be saving,” Hatcher-Hutchinson said.

Dr. Hedrick suggests those who want to donate check with local blood banks first to set up an appointment.