For the first time in its nearly 50-year history, Blood Assurance will offer blood donors the opportunity to find out if they carry the trait that can lead to sickle cell disease.
The free and voluntary program, which takes place during National Sickle Cell Awareness Month, will be available to blood donors until Sept. 30 at all mobile blood drives and fixed locations.
“I am excited and proud that Blood Assurance has taken this initiative,” said Dr. Ted Kieffer, Blood Assurance’s medical director. “Unlike patients with sickle cell disease, when someone carries the trait, they may be unaware and are at risk of having a child with the disease. Someone knowing whether they carry the trait will help that person understand the risk when planning for a family.”
The process starts with a blood donation. From that donation, Blood Assurance will take a sample of the blood and perform a sickle cell screening test that will identify if the donor has the trait. If the result comes back positive, Blood Assurance will contact the individual by mail in about a month. The letter will include details on where and how to seek additional information. Donors who screen negative, will not be notified.
Additionally, Blood Assurance is partnering with the Nashville-based Breaking the Sickle Cell Cycle Foundation. A mobile blood drive will take place Saturday, Sept. 18 from 8 a.m.-12 p.m. during the foundation’s Warrior Walk/Run 5K at Edwin Warner Park, picnic area #9.
“Sickle cell disease is a blood disorder and blood donations are vital to the people in the sickle cell community,” according to Dr. Lametra Scott, the founder of the Breaking the Sickle Cell Cycle Foundation.
The CDC states that sickle cell disease affects approximately 100,000 Americans and occurs among about 1 out of every 365 Black births and 1 out of every 16,300 Hispanic-American births.
“For so long, sickle cell disease has been in the dark. When new organizations like Blood Assurance are coming on board to improve the lives of those with sickle cell disease, it gives me hope,” Scott said.
Donors can schedule an appointment to give blood at the Warrior Walk/Run 5K by visiting bloodassurance.org/SickleCell5k, or by calling 800-962-0628, or by texting BAGIVE to 999777. Walk-ins will be accepted.
To be eligible to donate blood, you must be at least 17 years old (16 years old with parental consent), weigh 110 pounds or more and be in good health. Donors are asked to drink plenty of fluids — avoiding caffeine — and eat a meal that is rich in iron prior to donating.
For additional information on the Breaking the Sickle Cell Cycle Foundation, visit btsscycle.org
About Blood Assurance
Blood Assurance is a nonprofit, full-service regional blood center serving more than 70 health care facilities in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky and North Carolina. Founded in 1972 as a joint effort of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society, the Chattanooga Area Hospital Council and the Chattanooga Jaycees, the mission of Blood Assurance is to provide a safe and adequate supply of blood and blood components to every area patient in need.