We celebrated World Blood Donor Day on June 14. It reminded me that blood donors are a heavily relied upon and greatly anonymous source of support all over the world. If blood donations did not exist, medicine as we know it would be so different; the whole system would collapse.
The purpose of this column is to acknowledge and thank blood donors everywhere.
Irrespective of the reason that you donate, the fact that you have gone out of your way and braved the sting of the needle to partake in such a selfless act of giving warrants you thanks and praise!
My sickle cell treatment changed from daily medications to mostly blood transfusions. Every four weeks I undergo a process called a red cell exchange transfusion in which I receive nine bags of donated blood while my blood — containing the sickle-shaped cells — is removed from my body.
If the problem is caused by my blood, let’s just swap it out! That’s what happens with this treatment. The aim is for the sickled red blood cells in my body to be less than 30% at any given time. This reduces the chance of symptoms caused by the adverse effect of sickled cells on my body.
This has been my treatment for just over a year now and it is proving to be very beneficial. The only downside is the toll the needles take on my veins during the process. However, I think of it as a necessary evil, as the transfusions have ultimately been helping me greatly.
By my calculations, I have received over 416 bags of blood. That means 416 people have donated and consequently helped to significantly improve my quality of life. Even though I can’t thank each of you personally (I wish I could), those of us on the receiving end of your donations are so grateful.
Also, a special thank you to those who are still donating during this pandemic. You are needed now more than ever, and the fact that people like me are still able to rely on you during such a time is a blessing. I know that a lot of people were wary about leaving their houses to go to a donor center, but precautions are being taken to ensure that the donor centers are as safe as possible.
More blood donors are always needed, especially donors from an Afro-Caribbean background to ensure the blood we receive is as closely matched to us as possible. If you have not thought about giving blood before, I urge you to do so.
Let me know if you are a blood donor in the comments below. Also, if you have sickle cell and are on the red cell exchange program, how are you finding it?
Note: Sickle Cell Anemia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sickle Cell Anemia News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sickle cell anemia.
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