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Red Cross encouraging Black blood donors to help people with sickle cell

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Posted at 4:33 PM, Sep 13, 2022

TULSA, Okla. — The Red Cross is encouraging Black men and women to donate blood to help people who are suffering from sickle cell anemia. It’s a disease that disproportionately affects Black people.

“It was very difficult to live our world without Anne Kathryn being in it laughing with us and playing with us,” said Clifton Taulbert.

Taulbert’s daughter Anne Kathryn was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia when she was a child. Taulbert says she brought so much joy to their family during her seven years on earth.

“Those were the best seven years in our family’s house,” said Taulbert.

Anne Kathryn was heading into the 2nd grade when her diagnosis led to multiple strokes that she never recovered from.

“It really becomes important to embrace every single moment, every single jiffy,” said Taulbert. “Just love your child as if there’s nothing else in the world you were called to do.”

Sickle cell anemia primarily affects Black men and women, but it’s a disease that many don’t know much about.

“Many people have heard the word sickle cell, but if you’ve not experienced it, it’s very difficult for it to cause you to think in terms of ‘let me give blood,’” said Taulbert.

It’s the reason the Red Cross is partnering with Greenwood Rising to get more Black blood donors.

“They can help people suffering from sickle cell avoid some of the complications like extreme pain or jaundice or fatigue sometimes even strokes,” said Matt Trotter.

Matt Trotter is the Regional Communications Director of the Red Cross of Kansas and Oklahoma. He says a lot of sickle cell treatment is focused on blood transfusions. The Red Cross says a single patient may need thousands of blood transfusions in their lifetime.

Trotter says Black donors tend to have protein structures on their red blood cells that very closely match to people suffering from the disease.

“The closer we can match that blood for patients, the better outcomes they have,” said Trotter. “The less likely they are to build up immunity to the blood that they’re receiving.”

A blood drive is taking place at Greenwood Rising at 23 N. Greenwood Avenue on September 14th from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. To schedule your appointment visit the Red Cross website and enter Greenwood. You can also call 1-800-RED-CROSS to schedule an appointment.

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