Sickle Cell Day is observed on June 19th every year both nationally and internationally as an effort to raise awareness of the disease. This rare genetic condition makes blood cells hard, sticky and C shaped like the sickle farming tool which is where the disease gets its name. It is estimated that 95,000 children and adults are affected by the potentially life threatening disease in the U.S. alone and it is the most inherited blood disorder in the world. Learn more about sickle cell and how to create more awareness of the condition, below.
Organize a fundraiser
One of the best ways to raise funds and awareness for a cause is through crowdfunding. Crowdfunding works by collecting donations from individuals or organizations. These funds can then be used to further research or to offset medical expenses for individuals receiving treatment.
Organize a talk
Another way you can get involved in spreading the word is to organize a talk at your workplace, a local park or other public space. You can prepare a small presentation to educate others on the cause, types, symptoms and treatments for sickle cell.
Attend a walk
Attending a walk can be a great way to meet people in your community who have been directly or indirectly affected by sickle cell. You can learn from others’ unique experiences with the disease and share ideas on ways to improve awareness.
People living with sickle cell have to receive routine blood transfusions as part of their treatment. It is critical that these patients receive their matching blood type. Because sickle cell is more common in African American (1 in 500 born with SC) and Hispanic (1 in 1,000 born with SC) communities, the blood needed to treat these patients will more than likely come from donors of the same ethnicities. There’s no evidence of risk associated with donating blood if you have sickle cell trait however, those who have the disease cannot do so.
In the U.S., newborn babies are screened for sickle cell shortly after birth. Sickle cell comes with a host of serious complications. Some of the more common side effects are pain episodes, infections, eye disease, and stroke. As always, contact your healthcare provider if you have any health concerns or if you want to learn more about sickle cell and other genetic diseases.