The Red Cross is holding a blood drive this weekend and they are hoping to get more African Americans to donate to help those suffering from sickle cell disease.

Iowa Red Cross regions spokesperson Emily Holley says, “Sickle cell disease is a genetic disease that is most prevalent in those of African descent. And the blood, the red blood cells are differently shaped they are sickled. And this is a disease that can cause severe pain, the kind of pain that lands within the hospital.” She says blood donations can help victims of sickle cell disease.

“For many sickle cell patients, current treatments involve blood transfusions. And we found, everyone has found, that those blood transfusions are most successful, coming from blood donors who are of the same ethnic backgrounds,” she says. Holley says the American Red Cross has been doing more to target donors to fight sickle cell disease because it is one of the most common genetic diseases that requires blood transfusions for management. She says they are always in need of blood donations of any type.

If you are eligible to give blood, we want you to give blood, the need for blood is always constant. But if you are someone of African or Latino descent, we would love for you to come out and give blood to because that’s the blood that is really going to help people who are in a sickle cell crisis,” according to Holley.

Blood has a 45-day shelf life and Holley says that’s why it is important to have all types of donations. And she says the blood will be used before its shelf life expires.

If blood cannot be used locally, if the local needs for blood are met, American Red Cross Blood is sent to where it is needed,” she says, “so it can be sent to a state that has just been impacted by a disaster where they’re they’re not able to hold blood drives for a while and so we want to make sure that everybody across the country is getting the life-saving work that they need.”

The special Sickle Cell Blood Drive is this Saturday (September 24) from 9:30 a-m until 1:30 pm at the Corinthian Baptist Church in Des Moines, at 814 School Street.