Shelton State hosts sickle cell blood drive

Sickle Cell Event

TUSCALOOSA – September is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month and the Eta Xi Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha has partnered with the American Red Cross to raise awareness and get more blood for those struggling with the disease.

The annual Sickle Cell Blood Drive was Wednesday, Sept. 7, and was part of HBCU Week at Shelton State Community College.

Jori Smith was diagnosed at 2 weeks old.

“Sickle cell is an inherited blood disease,” Smith said. “I was diagnosed as a baby, but I did not experience any symptoms or pain until about 7 years old when I had my first hospital stay.”

This disease predominantly affects African Americans, but also those of Latin, Middle Eastern or Mediterranean descent.

“The most important result for us is the need for blood donations from individuals who are Black or African American,” said Red Cross National Biomedical Communication Specialist Tiffany Taylor. “The reason is patients who have sickle cell disease are predominantly from the African American community.”

Sickle cell disease is a group of inherited red blood cells and disorders. Healthy red blood cells are red and tend to move through small blood vessels to carry oxygen to all parts of the body. Those with the disease have red blood cells that are hard, sticky and resemble the C-shaped farm tool known as a sickle.

It’s usually diagnosed in the U.S. at birth through a blood test. Early diagnosis and treatment is important to prevent infection or long-term health complications.

Sickle cell disease affects more than 2,850 residents in Alabama and more than 100,000 people in the U.S.

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