Sickle Cell Anemia - Charles Drew blood donation campaign - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

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Sickle Cell Anemia - Charles Drew blood donation campaign

Sickle Cell Anemia - Charles Drew blood donation campaign
By: Tiffany Sisson

Like every child her age, 11-year-old Tayler Campbell likes to fit in. "I'm just a regular child who happens to have sickle cells," explained Campbell.

Sickle cells are what set Tayler apart. She's one of more than 70 thousand people with the disease. Sickled shaped blood cells don't move easily through her blood vessels. Every 5 weeks, Tayler goes to St. Louis for a blood transfusion, requiring 4 units each time. The best blood comes from people just like Tayler, African Americans.

Gene Magnus with the American Red Cross is calling upon the community to step up to the chair, through the Charles Drew blood donation campaign. "Caucasians can match into the Charles Drew program, but African Americans generally will match up more frequently," explained Magnus.

Dr. Charles Drew was a black researcher who pioneered the field of blood plasma preservation and storage. The campaign, named in his honor, encourages blacks to donate blood. It is then matched with children, like Tayler, who have sickle cell disease. "These children that are in the specialized program, can't take just any blood. They have to be matched. The percentages that you have to test, in order to find those 10 to 12 donors per child, is like a needle in a haystack," said Magnus.

A death from the disease inspired Reverend Cecil Thomas to become a regular donor. "One of the young men that passed, died with sickle cell," said Thomas.

The Red Cross is coming together with organizations that bear the cross of Jesus to send a lifesaving message. "I will have anywhere from 50 to 70 members that will give blood because their pastor requested them to," said Thomas.

February 1st through the 10th day of Black History Month is an opportunity for African Americans to help each other. Make an appointment with the Red Cross to be part of the Charles Drew Campaign. Right now, children with sickle cell disease are being turned away. There is not enough suitable blood for them. The Red Cross needs 450 new black donors to help save their lives.

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