POUGHKEEPSIE — When patients living with sickle cell disease face a sickle cell crisis, blood transfusions can make a lifesaving difference. That’s why the American Red Cross has launched an initiative to grow the number of blood donors who are Black to help patients with sickle cell disease, an enduring and often invisible health disparity in the U.S.

More than 100,000 people in the U.S. have sickle cell disease, the most common inherited blood disorder, and the majority of patients are of African descent. Despite the discovery of the disease more than a century ago, there have been fewer health resources available to help those currently suffering from sickle cell crisis in comparison to similar diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with sickle cell disease experience worse health outcomes than comparable diseases.

Many patients with sickle cell disease will require regular blood transfusions to help manage their disease. Unfortunately, these patients may develop an immune response against blood from donors that is not closely matched to their own. Many individuals who are Black have distinct markers on their red blood cells that make their donations ideal for helping patients with sickle cell disease. More than half of blood donors who are Black have blood that is free of C, E and K antigens — making them the best match for those with sickle cell disease. The Red Cross asks members of the Black community to join in helping to address this health disparity and meet the needs of patients with sickle cell disease. Donors can take action today by scheduling a blood donation appointment at RedCrossBlood.org, by downloading the Blood Donor App or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS. To help tackle the need for blood in September – Sickle Cell Awareness Month − all donors who come to give with the Red Cross through Sept. 30 will receive a limited-edition football-themed T-shirt, while supplies last.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities:

Columbia County

West Ghent Volunteer Fire Company, 74 Bender Blvd., Ghent, 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Sept. 25.

Dutchess County

East Fishkill Fire Department Training Center, 2502 Route 52, Hopewell Junction, 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Sept. 25.

Boardman Road Branch Library, 141 Boardman Road, Poughkeepsie, 2-7 p.m. Sept. 30.

Ulster County

Trinity Episcopal Church Barclay Heights, 32 Church St. Rt. 9W, Saugerties, noon-5:30 p.m. Sept. 24.

Town of Gardiner, 2340 Rte 44/55, Gardiner, 1-6 p.m. Sept. 27.

Veterans of Foreign Wars, 708 East Chester St., Kingston, 1-6 p.m. Sept. 27.

Best Western Plus Kingston Hotel, 503 Washington Ave., Kingston, noon-4 p.m. Sept. 30.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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