For the first time in its nearly 50-year history, Blood Assurance will offer blood donors the opportunity to find out if they carry the trait that can lead to sickle cell disease.
The free and voluntary program, which takes place during National Sickle Cell Awareness Month, will be available to blood donors until Sept. 30 at all mobile blood drives and fixed locations.
“I am excited and proud that Blood Assurance has taken this initiative,” said Dr. Ted Kieffer, Blood Assurance’s medical director. “Unlike patients with sickle cell disease, when someone carries the trait, they may be unaware and are at risk of having a child with the disease. Someone knowing whether they carry the trait will help that person understand the risk when planning for a family.”
The process starts with a blood donation. From that donation, Blood Assurance will take a sample of the blood and perform a sickle cell screening test that will identify if the donor has the trait. If the result comes back positive, Blood Assurance will contact the individual by mail in about a month. The letter will include details on where and how to seek additional information. Donors who screen negative will not be notified.
Additionally, Blood Assurance is partnering with the Nashville-based Breaking the Sickle Cell Cycle Foundation. A mobile blood drive will take place Saturday, Sept. 18 from 8 a.m.-noon during the foundation’s Warrior Walk/Run 5K at Edwin Warner Park, picnic area nine.
“Sickle cell disease is a blood disorder and blood donations are vital to the people in the sickle cell community,” said Dr. Lametra Scott, founder of the Breaking the Sickle Cell Cycle Foundation.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that sickle cell disease affects approximately 100,000 Americans and occurs among about one out of every 365 Black births and one out of every 16,300 Hispanic-American births.
“For so long, sickle cell disease has been in the dark. When new organizations like Blood Assurance are coming on board to improve the lives of those with sickle cell disease, it gives me hope,” Scott said.
Donors can schedule an appointment to give blood at the Warrior Walk/Run 5K by visiting www.bloodassurance.org/SickleCell5k, calling 800-962-0628 or texting BAGIVE to 999777. Walk-ins will be accepted.
To be eligible to donate blood, you must be at least 17 years old (16 years old with parental consent), weigh 110 pounds or more and be in good health. Donors are asked to drink plenty of fluids — avoiding caffeine — and eat a meal that is rich in iron prior to donating.
For additional information on the Breaking the Sickle Cell Cycle Foundation, visit www.btsscycle.org.