Celebrating Life, In Spite of Cancer
World Blood Donor Day (June 14th) celebrates ordinary citizens around the world who make voluntary, unpaid blood donations to their community’s blood banks.
And yet, says the American Red Cross, "For those with rare blood types, the supply can be limited." People living with sickle cell disease (SCD), for example, need frequent blood transfusions and depend on donations from others who match their blood type as closely as possible.
Sharing the blood donor spotlight this month, SCD is an inherited condition that affects the way red blood cells form hemoglobin and causes a shortage of red blood cells. Without care and treatment, this condition can cause pain and obstruct blood flow, leading to infection and even stroke. June 19th (Juneteenth) is also World Sickle Cell Awareness Day, a day to honor and speak for people affected by SCD (also known as sickle cell anemia.) Because their lives and health depend on frequent, closely matched blood transfusions, people who live with SCD and their loved ones have become a public voice acting to increase the number of blood donors with compatible blood types for treating SCD.
Simply put, our healthcare system relies on a diverse, safe, and well-stocked blood supply. More is always better—the Red Cross reports that only about 3% of age-eligible people end up donating in a year.
According to the Red Cross' national resource site, approximately 29,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the United States. Every two seconds, someone in the United States requires a blood or platelet transfusion for one or more of these reasons:
Anyone can need a blood transfusion, regardless of their medical and health history. That’s why the Red Cross and the hospitals they supply urge everyone to know their blood type and consider donating blood as frequently as they can.