Known as the most massive single-day blood drive in the nation, the 6th Annual ABC 7 Great Chicago Blood Drive, sponsored by the American Red Cross, surpassed their goal of 1,500 units from over 2,000 donors.
Taking place in four different locations across the city, surrounding suburbs, and Indiana, Chicagoland and Indiana residents took time out of their day to donate blood and Power Red to someone who needs it most. The complete blood donation process took 8-10 minutes, resulting in a pint of the blood being drawn. Power Red, on the other hand, equaled two units of red blood cells, returning the plasma and platelets to the donor at completion.
In America, someone needs blood every two seconds, and with January not only being National Blood Donor Month, but there is also typically a shortage of blood this time every year, due to its perishable nature and increased needs. These needs range from accidents to surgeries and terminal illnesses. One of which includes those living with sickle cell disease.
Sickle cell disease is an inherited disorder affecting one’s red blood cells, causing them to have a decreased life, become sticky, rigid, and look sickle in shape. The sickling of blood cells then blocks blood flow, leaving individuals with swelling in their hands and feet, fatigue, anemia, stroke, and extreme pain, commonly known as a sickle cell crisis. In severe cases, blood transfusions are used to aid with anemia, enabling the blood to flow more freely, and lessening the risk of increased complications.
For an individual to be born with the disease, both parents must be carriers of the gene. Furthermore, of the approximate 100,000 Americans who suffer from sickle cell, African Americans have increased chances of being born with the disease. According to the Center for Disease Control, 1 out of every 13 African Americans is carriers, resulting in 1 out of every 365 that are born with the disease. Due to these high numbers and the fact that while African Americans make up 13 percent of the US population, they only account for less than 1 percent of donors, making the need for donations from more diverse individuals paramount.
Often, blood donations are given to individuals of the same ethnicity as the donor. One pint of blood can help up to three people. Because of the unique nature of blood in African Americans, it increases the number of successful transfusions, resulting in a better quality of life for those who have sickle cell disease.
American Red Cross CEO, Celena Roldon, and Chief Communications and Marketing Officer, Joy Squier, both stressed that having more diverse donors not only reflects the colorful makeup of the city but can also be the missing piece to someone’s chance at survival.
Special thanks to ABC 7 for their commitment and sponsorship.
For more information on where and how to donate blood, please visit the American Red Cross at redcross.org.