Childrens Hospital Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper hosted a one-day blood drive to increase awareness about sickle cell disease and the importance of blood donations within the African-American community. The blood drive took place on Friday, March 13, 2009 at the Los Angeles Sentinel offices. Community partners included: the Brotherhood Crusade, Mothers in Action, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles, the Urban League of Greater Los Angeles, Los Angeles Panhellenic Council, and the Los Angeles Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.

Sickle cell disease is the most common genetic disease in African-Americans, affecting about one in 400 newborns. Patients with sickle cell disease have red blood cells that contain an abnormal type of hemoglobin that causes the normally round, flexible red blood cells to become stiff and sickle- or crescent-shaped. The sickle cells can’t pass through tiny blood vessels, which can prevent blood from reaching some tissues and can result in tissue and organ damage, pain and stroke.

“Blood transfusions and bone marrow transplants have been shown to be effective treatments for sickle cell disease by replacing sickle cells with healthy red blood cells,” explains Danny Bakewell Jr., executive editor of the Los Angeles Sentinel. “African-American blood donors are more likely to have more compatible red blood cell phenotypes for children with sickle cell disease.”

Although African-Americans make up 13.5 percent of the population, they make up only 6.5 percent of the total blood-donor pool.

The Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper is the oldest and most read African American newspaper west of the Mississippi River.

Video produced by Ultra Wave Media.