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Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a life-threatening condition affecting nearly 100,000 individuals in the United States, primarily of African descent. SCD is caused by an abnormally shaped red blood cell called a “sickle” cell. These sickle cells adhere to the walls of blood vessels, causing inflammation, blood clots, and organ damage over time. As a result, individuals with SCD experience various debilitating symptoms, including severe pain, difficulty sleeping, depression, impaired thinking, fatigue, and a decreased quality of life. Additionally, the ability to function and carry out daily activities is significantly compromised.

In addition to the medical aspects of the disease, social factors further compound the challenges those living with SCD face. Social determinants of health, such as low income and low education levels, contribute to the already burdensome nature of the disease. The impact of SCD extends beyond physical health, affecting relationships, employment stability, and housing security. The unpredictable nature of SCD, with frequent hospitalizations and medical emergencies, makes it difficult for individuals to maintain stable employment and housing arrangements. This leads to a cycle of financial instability and hardship.

One concern is the lack of recognition of the need for blood transfusions, particularly from Black and Brown donors. These transfusions are crucial for the treatment and survival of individuals with SCD. However, multiple challenges contribute to the shortage of racially diverse blood donors:

•    A lack of understanding around blood type matching and the importance of racially diverse blood donors.
•    Historical and systemic factors that have led to a deep-rooted distrust in healthcare and government systems within these communities.
•    A shortage of racially diverse blood donors, which severely limits the availability of compatible blood for transfusions.

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