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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – The American Red Cross is encouraging people in Alabama to become a “sickle cell fighter” by donating blood during Black History Month.

According to the American Red Cross, roughly 100,000 people in the U.S., most of whom are of African descent, are living with sickle cell disease. It is the most common inherited blood disorder in the country.

Researchers inch closer to possible cure for sickle cell anemia

The disease causes red blood cells to become sticky, hard and crescent-shaped, instead of soft and round, making it difficult for blood to flow throughout the body.

“Blood transfusion helps patients with sickle cell disease by increasing the number of normal red blood cells in the body, helping to deliver oxygen and unblock blood vessels,” the American Red Cross said in a statement. “Red blood cells carry markers on their surface called antigens that determine blood type. Some are unique to specific racial and ethnic groups, and because of this, those with sickle cell disease are more likely to find a compatible blood match from a blood donor who is Black.”

Donors can give blood to the American Red Cross on February 28, 2024, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Boutwell Auditorium.

Whether blood is needed for a chronic condition, such as sickle cell disease, a surgical procedure or a large-scale emergency, it’s the blood already on the shelves that helps save lives, and a diverse blood supply is needed to help the diverse patients who depend on it.

American Red Cross

To make an appointment or to learn more, download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

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