Sickle Cell Hero

Learn all the ways you can become a hero to someone with sickle cell disease. Sickle cell patients may need many blood transfusions in a lifetime, some as frequently as every four weeks.

What is sickle cell disease?

Sickle cell disease is a genetic blood disorder that affects the boy’s red blood cells.

Healthy people have disc-shaped red blood cells, but people who have sickle cell disease have blood cells that tend to change to a crescent shape. These thin sickle-shaped cells have difficulty passing through tiny blood vessels.

The symptoms of sickle cell can range from fatigue and breathlessness to unbearable pain that comes with the swelling of the joints, hands and feet. Stroke, liver disease and delayed growth are just a few of the complications it can trigger.

What is a sickle cell hero?

Sickle cell patients may need many blood transfusions in a lifetime, some as frequently as every four weeks.

However, multiple transfusions can cause complications. To reduce complications, finding donors whose blood types more precisely match these patients is crucial.

We call these donors Sickle Cell Heroes.

They save the lives of those affected by the disease and greatly reduce the negative effects of the multiple transfusions patients need to survive. Transfusions can increase the amount of healthy red blood cells in the blood stream and lessen the effects of the sickle-shaped cells.

How do I know if I am a sickle cell hero?

Donate blood with LifeSouth, and your blood will be tested to see if you are a special match for a patient with sickle cell disease. Sickle cell disease predominately affects African-Americans. Since matches are much more likely to be found within a patient’s own ethnic group, African-American donors may be the best hope for patients with sickle cell disease. Diversity is the key to successfully matching blood donors to the patients who need them.

What happens if I am a sickle cell hero?

If you are notified that you are a Sickle Cell Hero, we strongly urge you to donate as often as you can. Sickle cell patients who receive frequent transfusions are in need of special blood like yours.

Because the blood they receive will come from a Sickle Cell Hero, the possibility of complications or reactions to their blood transfusions will be much lower. This can mean more successful treatments, and it can also lessen the likelihood of strokes for sickle cell patients.

You have the power to improve the life and health of someone suffering from sickle cell disease.

Marrow and cord blood treatment

For some patients, usually children, a transplant of bone marrow or cord blood offers the possibility of curing sickle cell disease.

The donor must closely match the patient’s tissue type for a transplant. Patients from racially or ethnically diverse backgrounds often have uncommon tissue types. According to the National Marrow Donor Program, a patient’s likelihood of finding a match on the Be The Match Registry®ranges from 76 percent to 97 percent, depending on race or ethnicity. African-American patient have an estimated 76 percent likelihood of finding a match on the registry – meaning they are least likely to find a match.

By increasing the number of minority marrow donors and cord blood units on the registry,minority patients will be more likely to find a match. By joining the registry, you may be called to donate marrow to any patient in need of a transplant. Contact your local LifeSouth center if you are interested in joining the registry.