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Three GR organizations holding sickle cell awareness blood drive Saturday

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a 50 to 70% reduction in minority donations to the blood bank.
Credit: WZZM

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Three organizations in Grand Rapids are partnering Saturday to host a blood drive focused of sickle cell awareness.

Versiti, Spectrum Health and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Grand Rapids (NAACPGR) are holding the event Sept. 26 at Braxton Community Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Sickle cell disease is a genetic blood disease that affects millions of people and disproportionately impacts Black people. Patients affected by sickle cell disease require adequate blood supply to survive, according to the organizations.

"African Americans have an additional blood type on their blood called Ro. Forty-four percent of African Americans have this blood type. So if sickle cell disease is very prevalent of African Americans, the likelihood of them needing the Ro blood type is 44 percent," said Dawn Kaiser an area VP for Versiti.

Kent County, Kalamazoo, Muskegon Michigan Black Nurses Association President R. Birthale Archie said that since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a 50 to 70% reduction in minority donations to the blood bank.

This is a problem because about 36,000 units of blood are needed each day, Birthale Archie said.

Saturday’s blood drive comes near the end of September, which is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month. The goal of the drive is to collect blood for patients with sickle cell disease, who can experience pain and often require blood transfusions.

The event is taking place at the Braxton Community Center gym, located at 935 Baxter Street SE in Grand Rapids. Masks are required at the event.

While appointments are not mandatory, they are preferred. Appointments can be made online or over the phone at 866-642-5663. Those who sign in to donate will receive a limited-edition sickle cell awareness shirt while supplies last.

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