Red Cross, Aenon church partner on blood drive aimed at helping sickle cell patients

Red Cross, Aenon church partner for blood drive

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Volunteers partnered with members of the Red Cross on Saturday at Aenon Missionary Baptist Church to host a sickle cell blood drive.

The drive is aimed at raising awareness for the disease and encouraging more people to donate.

Blood transfusions are one of the most critical treatments for sickle cell patients, which is why blood drives like the one held Saturday play a critical role in making sure there is enough supply to help those who need it most.

“We are reaching out the community to provide education as well as gain their support and understand why it’s so necessary to donate blood,” said Debra Dunn, American Red Cross district manager of blood recruitment.

Dunn said the event is personal to her.

“As someone who is Black and of African-American decent, it is critical that we have people coming in and donating so that sickle cell patients can get a match,” she said.

According to the Sickle Cell Disease Association, it is estimated that over 100,000 people in the U.S. have sickle cell — a disease that disproportionately affects the African-American community with one in every 13 African-American babies born with the sickle cell trait.

That’s why Aenon trustee board chair Karen Lee Byfield says she’s happy to open the doors to her church again this year to anyone who wants to donate.

“We believe in community. It’s not just in the church or in the sanctuary where you serve people. You have to reach out to other organizations within the community, and that’s something that we strive to do, and glad that we are able to provide this event here at Aenon,” she said.

Byfield looks forward to hosting the drive again in the coming months.

“When we host events like this, we just hope people come out and be a part of it because it’s important to our community,” she said.

According to the Sickle Cell Association, less than 10 percent of Americans donate blood every year, which is why Aenon and the Red Cross are committed to continuing to host the blood drives.