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Sickle cell disease exposes major concerns in Black community

Posted at 1:19 PM, Jun 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-19 13:19:44-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The Black Lives Matter movement is not only focused on criminal justice reform but also on health disparities.

Sickle cell disease is a major health concern in the Black community, and there's a desperate need for a solution.

Indianapolis 13-year-old Mariah Roberts lives with sickle cell disease. She was diagnosed with the blood disorder three days after birth, and over time has undergone two blood transfusions.

Mariah has already written two books about the disease, which can cause everything from body aches to live and heart issues. The condition can be managed through medicine, diet, and some may need a blood transfusion. But the problem is many African-Americans do not donate blood, and that is a major concern.

"There are specific people who need blood from African-Americans who carry R-O blood type that is really needed for people with sickle cell who need blood therapy," Dr. Tajuana Ryder, Versiti Blood Center of Indiana, said.

One donation can save up to three people, according to the Martin Center in Indianapolis. The Martin Center works with families facing sickle cell. More resources could help the center connect with more people.

"Yes, Black Lives Matter, but Black blood heals too," Gary Gibson, Martin Center's president and CEO, said.

It's estimated that more than 1,400 people in Indiana are coping with sickle cell disease.

Mariah, her family, and the MArtin Center say if you want to be a part of a solution, donate blood for this cause.

You can call Versiti to schedule a time to donate at 317-916-5150.

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