To commemorate September as Sickle Cell Awareness Month, the American Red Cross is seeking blood donors from the African American community through the organization’s Blue Tie Tag program.
The Blue Tie Tag program is a blood donor recruitment initiative designed to increase the diversity of the local blood supply and help provide better blood transfusion support for patients with Sickle Cell Disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, Sickle Cell Disease affects 90,000 to 100,000 Americans and occurs in one out of every 500 Black or African American births. Blood transfusion plays a major role in the treatment of the disease.
Blood, like many other genetic factors, is best matched among people of the same ethnic group. In the case of patients with Sickle Cell Disease, the best match will most likely come from an African American donor.
However, African Americans have been historically underrepresented in the blood donor population, making it more challenging for the Red Cross to find the unique donor matches needed to treat Sickle Cell Disease patients.
The Blue Tie Tag program, which was started in the Northern California Region in 2010, allows African American donors to designate their blood donation for use with a patient suffering from Sickle Cell Disease.
If the donation is not matched to a patient with Sickle Cell Disease after 21 days, then it will become available to any patient in need.
Anyone interested in donating blood for the Blue Tie Tag program can donate at any Red Cross blood donation center (Oakland, Pleasant Hill, Pleasanton, Newark and San Jose) or mobile blood drive in the Bay Area.
Donors just need to mention to a Red Cross staff member onsite that they want to designate their donation for the Blue Tie Tag program.
Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission), meet height and weight requirements (at least 110 pounds based on height) and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood.
For information visit www.redcrossblood.org/northernca