American Red Cross' New Initiative Looks for Black Blood Donors to Help Fight Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a genetic condition, most commonly found among African Americans, that affects the body’s red blood cells and normally occurs when a child receives two sickle cell genes—one from each parent. It's estimated that 100,000 Americans are affected by SCD and about 1 in 13 African-American babies are born with the sickle cell trait, which can potentially result in having or passing the disease.

With SCD, red blood cells in the body die early, which means there are not enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. People living with SCD often feel pain in their bodies that could last for a few hours or a few weeks and can suffer from problems such as infection, acute chest syndrome and stroke.

The American Red Cross recently launched a new national initiative to reach more Black blood donors to help patients with sickle cell disease and improve health outcomes. We recently spoke with Tiffany Taylor, a biomedical communications specialist on the American Red Cross national headquarters team, about sickle cell disease, blood donors and more.

Can sickle cell disease be prevented?