The American Red Cross Launches Fight Against Sickle Cell Anemia


Bethel Student Lamar Bowen lives with Sickle Cell.


The American Red Cross is proud to partner with Bethel University to raise awareness about a condition that is prominent within the community but rarely spoken about. Sickle Cell Anemia affects more than 80,000 people in the U.S., 98 percent of whom are African American. This blood disorder is an inherited disease that causes red blood cells to form in an abnormal crescent shape, which doesn’t move easily through the blood vessels. When sickle-shaped cells block small blood vessels, blood flow decreases to that part of the body.  Tissue that does not receive normal blood flow eventually gets damaged, causing pain and organ damage.

     Lamar Bowen of Bethel University lives with Sickle Cell and says this is an issue the community must address. “I think it is very important to talk about Sickle Cell. We have to educate ourselves about this condition to raise awareness about the importance of donating blood and to help educate future generations,” said Bowen. “There area people out there living with Sickle Cell who are struggling to find the right blood type match. I want the community to know that giving blood could help save a life and prevent someone from having to go through serious pain.”

     Bowen is a proud member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. His fraternity brothers are fully supportive of the drive, “We hope this blood drive is a huge success and that we get the most donors are possible to help those in need,” said Bowen.

     Patients living with this special condition need frequent transfusions to survive. A single Sickle Cell patient could receive up to 100 pints of blood each year to continue to live with the disease.

     Because certain blood types are unique to certain racial or ethnic groups, it is essential that the diversity of the blood donors match the diversity of these patients in need.

     Transfusions from blood donors of the same ethnic background are most beneficial because they have less chance of causing complications for the recipient. 

  • If you have sickle cell disease, you are not eligible to donate blood.
  • If you have sickle cell trait, you are eligible to donate blood.

The American Red Cross is holding the first Sickle Cell blood drive in the Bethel Community on January 23, 2013 from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. at Bethel University.

To make your appointment for this blood drive, call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit and enter sponsor code: 1158

All presenting donors will be entered to win a $1,000 home improvement gift card and a tablet computer valued at $500!

     This special blood drive is part of our Blue Tag initiative. To ensure that your blood donation goes to help a Sickle Cell patient, please identify yourself as African American or Black and allow our blood collection staff to place a blue tag on your blood donation.  The blue tag will notify our processing lab that this blood donation is designated for the Sickle Cell Donor Program.

     If your blood is not a match for the Sickle Cell Donor Program, it is stored until it is needed.  If the blood approaches its expiration date and has not been needed by a Sickle Cell patient, it will be used by another patient in need. The American Red Cross strives to ensure every blood donation helps a patient in need.

How to Donate Blood:

Call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit for more information or to make an appointment. All blood types are needed to ensure the Red Cross maintains an adequate blood supply. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Donors must be in general good health, weigh at least 110 pounds and be at least 17 years old (16 with completed Parental Consent Form). New height and weight restrictions apply to donors 18 and younger. 

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies more than 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or join our blog at