African American Blood Donors Make a Difference for Local Sickle Cell Warriors


LifeSouth Welcomes Blood Donors to the 365 Movement: African American blood donors make a difference for local sickle cell warriors

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a genetic blood disorder that impacts one in every 365 African American children. It is named for the thin, crescent-shaped red blood cells that face more difficulty passing through blood vessels than healthy, disc-shaped red blood cells. Patients with SCD may experience symptoms such as chronic fatigue, recurrent episodes of extreme pain, breathlessness and increased risk of complications such as stroke, liver disease and delayed growth.

Locally, LifeSouth Community Blood Centers is seeking eligible blood donors to join the 365 Movement, which focuses on raising awareness for the need of African American donors and other donors with rare blood types to help patients who need specially matched blood for transfusions 365 days a year.
People living with SCD often need blood transfusions to increase the amount of healthy red blood cells in their bloodstream and lessen the effects of the sickle-shaped cells. LifeSouth works with local hospitals, such as Baptist Medical Center Beaches, Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville, Baptist Medical Center Nassau, Baptist Medical Center South, Memorial Hospital, Orange Park Medical Center and Wolfson Children’s Hospital, to match SCD patients with Sickle Cell Heroes: donors whose red blood cells are precisely matched to reduce complications from blood transfusions. The best matches are likely to be found within a patient’s own ethnic group. To date, LifeSouth has identified 11,300 Sickle Cell Heroes across Alabama, Florida and Georgia.
“LifeSouth’s 365 Movement is a wonderful way to support sickle cell warriors in our community,” said Dave Halverson, District Director for LifeSouth. “We are always looking for donors and blood drive hosts to join us in our efforts to make sure patients living with SCD receive the best care, and a steady blood supply is critical to their quality of life.”

Here are four ways you can make a difference for a local patient:

• Join the 365 Movement by scheduling regular blood drives at your church, place of business, or within your community to help individuals who could be a potential match for a SCD patient. There is no cost to host a LifeSouth blood drive, and LifeSouth will provide snacks and gifts for all participants — plus marketing support to help make sure your drive is a success.

Visit a LifeSouth donor center or blood drive to donate blood. LifeSouth will test each donation to identify potential Sickle Cell Heroes. LifeSouth’s Northeast Florida donor centers are open Monday through Friday, and are located at 7840 Baymeadows Way and 800 Prudential Drive (inside Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville).

• Donate as often as you can if your identified blood antigen profile is a match. If you are identified as a Sickle Cell Hero, your donations will help a local patient living with SCD.

• Join the Be The Match Registry. There is no universal cure for SCD, but some patients may qualify for a bone marrow transplant. LifeSouth can assist local donors who are interested in being potential bone marrow or cord blood donors for patients in need, including those living with SCD.

Donors must be at least 17 or 16 with parental permission, weigh a minimum of 110 pounds and be in good health. A photo ID is also needed. To learn more, visit

For additional information, including upcoming blood drives, call LifeSouth toll-free at 888-795-2707 or visit

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