Close the Sickle Cell Gap

The American Red Cross and the Bobbi Engram Foundation are Partnering to Close the Sickle Cell Gap.

The goals of this new partnership are to increase the public’s understanding and knowledge of Sickle Cell Disease while also recruiting more donors of African descent because their blood is a better genetic match for Black and African American Sickle Cell patients.

The Bobbi Engram Foundation began when eight-year-old Bobbi Engram noticed that the care she received during a Sickle Cell pain crisis was different than the care other Sickle Cell patients received. Shortly afterwards, her parents, Bobby and Deanna, founded the Bobbi Engram Foundation to assist patients with Sickle Cell Disease.

The American Red Cross and the Bobbi Engram Foundation have  launched a three-year partnership that will serve as that will serve as a national blood drive and educational campaign that will enhance awareness of about Sickle Cell Disease while addressing critical blood supply needs. This initiative targets Black and African - American blood donors and highlights the need for a stable supply of blood donors of African descent. Through collaboration with community-based organizations, advocacy groups, colleges and universities, hospitals, and others, this partnership helps ensure Sickle Cell Disease patients have access to lifesaving blood products.

The annual goal of the campaign is to mobilize blood drives (with a minimum of 30 units collected per drive) targeting Black and African -American donors across the nation. The expected outcome of this partnership is the saving of thousands of Black and African American lives because of the increased number of donors whose blood is a better genetic match. It is anticipated that hundreds of blood donations will be made, helping to save thousands of lives.

“The Red Cross is proud to partner with the Bobbi Engram Foundation,” said Misty Bruce, Executive Director of Central Maryland Red Cross Blood Services. “A diverse blood supply is critical to being able to help all patients in need. Blood from people of a similar race and ethnicity as a patient can provide the best health outcomes and fewer complications from a transfusion.”

“The Bobbi Engram Foundation is excited about this new partnership and the impact it can have ion saving lives,” said BEF Vice President and Co-Founder Deanna Engram. “We know that every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood. Individuals living with a chronic illness, like Sickle Cell Disease, are especially in need of blood transfusions and donated blood. This unique partnership will provide new opportunities for the Bobbi Engram Foundation and the Red Cross to not only inform and educate the public about Sickle Cell Disease and the Sickle Cell Trait, but also to activate and engage the Black and African -American community about the immense importance of donating blood,” said Bobby Engram, BEF President and Co-Founder..

 

CSCG Mission

Closing the Sickle Cell Gap is an enterprise-wide campaign to triple the number of African American blood donors by the end of December 2024. This national effort will help the American Red Cross eliminate the gap in our ability to meet hospital demand and provide the most compatible units for patients with Sickle Cell Disease. This disease is the most common genetic blood disease in the U.S.,, affecting about 100,000 people, —primarily those of affecting Black and African American descent individuals. Though there is no widely available cure, the Red Cross supports one of the most critical Sickle Cell Disease treatments of all—blood transfusions. For many patients, a close blood type match is essential and is found in donors of the same race or similar ethnicity.

Campaign Objective

Triple our African American blood donor base to eliminate the gap in our ability to meet the need, for the most compatible units of blood, to treat patients with Sickle Cell Disease.

Blood Facts

  • Approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U.S.

  • Nearly 7,000 units of platelets and 10,000 units of plasma are needed daily in the U.S.

  • Nearly 21 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S.

  • The average red blood cell transfusion is approximately 3 units.

  • The blood type most often requested by hospitals is type O.

  • 1 in every 13 Black and African Americans are born with the Sickle Cell Trait.

  • Approximately 100,000 Americans are battling Sickle Cell Disease and most of them are Black or African American.

  • Type O blood is most common blood type among Black and Latino individuals.

  • Most Sickle Cell Disease patients will require blood transfusions throughout their lives.

  • A diverse blood supply is critical to serve a diverse population.

  • The American Red Cross will be testing blood donated by Black and African American donors for the Sickle Cell Trait.

 

About the American Red Cross

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds, and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 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 redcross.org or www.redcrossblood.org

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