Did you know that one pint of blood can save up to three lives? That is what Eileen Randle tells everyone she comes into contact with, hoping to encourage more people to participate in donating blood.
On Saturday, March 1 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Randle and Watkins families are sponsoring the 8th Tyra Watkins Friends and Family Blood Drive in partnership with the Second Baptist Church Health Ministry.
Tyra, 15, has sickle cell disease and has received many blood transfusions, so many that now she can receive only very specific blood that has to be matched beyond the traditional blood typing.
Tyra’s struggle inspired her family to start the blood drives in her honor.
“It’s very hard to see Tyra go through this pain,” said Randle, Tyra’s great aunt. “She’s a trooper, though. I really admire her.”
A total of 100 units of blood were collected at the first three blood drives. The family is ambitious to collect 50 to 100 or more units of blood at the upcoming blood drive.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that sickle cell disease occurs in one out of every 500 Black or African American births. Its prevalence in the African American community means that African American donors can provide blood that is the best match for those who suffer with the disease.
The Blue Tie Tag program with the American Red Cross is designed to increase the diversity of the local blood supply. It allows blood that is collected from African American donors to be matched to patients with sickle cell disease.
If a donation collected through the program is not needed for a sickle cell patient within 21 days, then that unit of blood becomes available for any patient in need.
Five million patients in the U.S. need blood every year and every two seconds someone is in need of a blood transfusion, according to the American Red Cross.
To be eligible to donate, donors must be at least 17 years old (16 with parental permission), in good health, and meet height and weight requirements (at least 110 pounds based on height).
The blood drive will be held at Second Baptist Church, 1170 Benicia Rd. in Vallejo. Donors are encouraged to sign up by calling (800) 733-2767 or visiting www.redcrossblood.org (enter sponsor code: TYRABTT).
For more information, call Eileen Randle at (707) 315-1900.