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January 7, 2015 by Andrea

blood donor2

Since January is National Blood Donor Month, kicking off the new year in support of sickle cell is easy! Whether you're a sickle cell soldier yourself; or, you're a caregiver, advocate, or friend, you know the important role blood donations play throughout the course of a sickler's life. Here's a list of ways that you -- and everyone you know -- can help benefit sickle cell this month (and beyond).

1. First of all, give blood. According to the Association of Donor Recruitment Professionals, "Blood is traditionally in short supply during the winter months due to the holidays, travel schedules, inclement weather, and illness. January, in particular, is a difficult month for blood centers to collect blood donations. A reduction in turnout can put our nation's blood inventory at a critical low." How can you help? To be a donor, you must be at least 17 years old, in good health, and weight at least 110 pounds.

2. Designate your blood donation to a sickle cell patient. The American Red Cross has a Blue Tag program that earmarks donations from African-American donors for sicklers. Since African Americans are most affected by SCD, it's important to have a large supply of African-American blood donors. States the Red Cross, "Like other genetic factors, blood is similar among people of the same ethnic group, that is why the closest match for a Sickle Cell patient will most likely come from an African American donor."

3. Spread the word. Help recruit other donors by launching your own virtual blood drive. All you have to do is create your campaign online, invite your friends and family to pledge to donate blood at a center near them, and promote your campaign to an even wider audience using social media.

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