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Red Cross encourages Black donors to give blood

Black man giving blood
Posted at 10:08 AM, Feb 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-19 10:08:16-05

INDIANAPOLIS — On Sunday, February 20, the American Red Cross of Indiana in partnership with WRTV, 100 Black Men of Indianapolis, and Martin University’s National Center of Racial Equity and Inclusion (NCREI) will be hosting a Black History Month Blood Drive at Martin University’s Gathertorium.

"We need Black donors to come out and give blood," Hyacinth Rucker, Regional Communications Manager with American Red Cross of Indiana, said.

She hopes the call will resonate with the Black community in Central Indiana because it ties in with their Sickle Cell Initiative. The goal is to get more Black donors to help people with a disease that primarily impacts the Black community. According to the CDC, Sickle Cell Disease occurs in about 1 out of every 365 Black births. About 1 in 13 Black babies are born with the sickle cell trait.

"It makes it to where the blood is a good match for someone that has sickle cell," she said.

Shealtiel Jordan, who's living with Sickle Cell, knows first-hand the importance of blood donations. Diagnosed as a child, Jordan went through the usual ups and downs for someone with the blood disorder. However, one of the scariest moments for her came at what is typically the happiest moment in a person's life.

"I never really wanted a blood transfusion. I didn't have to have a blood transfusion until just a little before my 21st birthday when I had my son," Jordan said. "If I didn't get it, that was going to be the end of me. I was going to see the Lord."

Shealtiel Jordan with her kids
Shealtiel Jordan with her two kids. Like many with Sickle Cell Disease, Jordan needed a blood transfusion during childbirth with her son. She feels lucky to have been able to have her children because many people with Sickle Cell have complications during the pregnancy that impacts the parent and unborn child.

The American Society of Hematology estimates between 70,000 to 100,000 Americans are living with Sickle Cell Disease. There's an unknown amount of people who go undiagnosed.

Common signs and symptoms of Sickle Cell include the following:

  • Anemia
  • Dark urine
  • Yellow eyes
  • Painful swelling of hands and feet
  • Frequent pain episodes
  • Stunted growth
  • Stroke

There's no common cure for Sickle Cell Disease, but blood transfusions are one of the best treatments available, which is why the American Red Cross of Indiana is encouraging more people to come donate and give the gift of life.

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