World Sickle Cell Awareness Day highlights need to fill Missing Types

By Glinda Dames Fincher

June 16, 2019- My name is Glinda Dames Fincher and I have lived with sickle cell disease for 60 years. Today is World Sickle Cell Awareness Day.

Sickle cell disease affects red blood cells. It makes them hard and sickle shaped instead of soft and round. As a result, blood has difficulty flowing smoothly through the blood vessels and carrying oxygen to the rest of the body.  This causes severe anemia and excruciating pain called sickle cell crisis.

Because of my illness, I depend on blood donors giving blood on a regular basis. As part of my treatment, I receive monthly red cell exchange transfusions. I receive two pints of red blood cells during each of these transfusions. If I have to undergo a major surgery, I receive a total exchange transfusion, which requires about seven to nine units of red cells. I have received regular blood transfusions for the last 20 years to help manage my sickle cell disease. Without donated blood, sickle cell patients face sickle cell crisis, and other complications such as strokes, organ failure, chronic wounds, and shortened lifespan.

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Glinda Dames Fincher speaks at the the Missing Types campaign kick-off at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland

Since most of those with sickle cell in the U.S. are of African and Latino descent, those who receive frequent blood transfusions need blood from those of their same race in order to decrease the chances of the patient having a reaction to the red cells. African American and Latino blood donors are greatly needed to provide the lifesaving transfusions needed not only by those with sickle cell, but also those with other diseases such as cancer, kidney failure and other chronic disorders.”

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I encourage everyone to help fill the Missing Types this summer. Sickle cell disease is the most common inherited blood disorder in the US and the world, with about 100,000 with the disease in the US, and an estimated 10 million with the disease worldwide and 100 million carriers of the sickle gene which they may pass on to their children. More blood donors are needed now. Join the American Red Cross and give blood to ensure patients like myself, and so many others, have the lifesaving treatment we need.

Do your part to help fill the missing types this summer and help save lives by visiting RedCrossBlood.org/MissingTypes to schedule a donation appointment today.

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