Red Cross to combat sickle-cell disease

September is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month, and the American Red Cross is encouraging blood donors across Minnesota to help them meet the needs of patients with the disease.

A blood drive will take place from 1 to 7 p.m. on Sept. 17 at the American Legion, 321 W Main St. in Adams. The following day, Mower County Red Cross will accept donations from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. at 305 Fourth Ave. NW in Austin.

Sickle cell anemia affects 70,000 people in the United States, most of them of African descent, but also people of Spanish, French, Italian, Greek and Turkish descent. The disease causes red blood cells to form an abnormal crescent shape. One of the most common treatments for sickle cell disease is regular blood transfusions, which can help reduce the risk of stroke, damage to major organs that can lead to severe infections, and other complications. There is currently no cure.

Blood donors need to reflect the ethnic diversity of the patients who receive their blood. Patients with sickle cell disease — primarily in the African-American community — are less likely to have complications from blood donated by someone within their racial and ethnic group. The Red Cross is committed to maintaining a diverse base of blood donors to help ensure that all blood types are available for patients with serious medical needs.

To donate, call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment.

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