The American Red Cross is trying to increase the availability of blood to patients living with sickle cell disease, a disease that distorts red blood cells and can cause stroke and organ failure.

“Over 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,” the Red Cross states in a news release. “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.”

“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,” the Red Cross states.

“Just imagine someone hitting your back with a hammer, constantly, and it just won’t stop,” said Passion Terrell whose son, Demarus undergoes monthly transfusions to treat his sickle cell disease.  “[Demarus] describes it, and you can picture it, but you really can’t.”

Passion Terrell said that after receiving a transfusion, Demaus is “like a different person.”

“His breathing improves; his blood levels improve,” Passion Terrell said. “It’s like his body wakes up.”

Here is a list of local upcoming blood donation opportunities:

Brunswick: Sept. 23, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Morong Brunswick, 314 Bath Road; Sept 29, noon to 4 p.m., The Landing YMCA, 24 Venture Ave. at Brunswick Landing

Bath: Sept. 30, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., YMCA, 303 Centre St.

Bowdoin: Sept. 24, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., FHC Inc., 1201 Main St.

Topsham: Sept. 20, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., ARC Mid Coast Chapter, 16 Community Way; Sept. 28, noon to 4:30 p.m., American Legion Post 202, 79 Foreside Road

Woolwich: Sept. 24, noon to 5 p.m., Woolwich-Wiscasset Baptist Church, 15 Fellowship Drive

Appointments to donate blood can be made at RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device. All blood types are needed.

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