Through my first blood donation, I discovered I’m a match for sickle cell disease patients, and it has inspired me to act by donating blood, educating others and hosting my own successful blood drive in Lewiston.

Extreme pain, strokes and organ failure are signs of a sickle cell crisis. For more than 100,000 people in the U.S. with sickle cell disease, most of whom are of African descent, blood transfusions can offer critical relief. Some patients may receive up to 100 units of blood a year.

Because most individuals who are Black have unique structures on our red blood cells that are not often found in other donor populations, 1 in 3 African American blood donors is a match for people with sickle cell disease!

This fall, the American Red Cross launched “Joined by Blood,” a component of our Sickle Cell Initiative, to grow our Black blood donor population. While the Black population in Maine is very low, it only takes one person – you, your friend or a family member — to make a difference in the life of someone living with sickle cell disease.

For more information on donating to this life-saving cause, and to find a donation center near you, please go to

Phyllis Arnold Rand
community volunteer leader and Red Cross blood donor,
American Red Cross Northern New England Region

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