Huskies help Red Cross battle blood crisis


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The Red Cross hopes to triple its African American donor base within the next 5 years.

DeKALB— All 47 available appointments for Thursday’s blood drive sponsored by The Center for Black Studies, The American Red Cross, National Pan-Hellenic Council, Sigma Nu and the African Student Association have been filled. 

In response to the success of the drive, Gaylen Rivers, assistant director of programming at the Center for Black Studies said she’s just ecstatic. 

“I’m so glad that we have plenty of Huskies that are willing to come donate,” Rivers said. 

The drive is part of the Red Cross’ sickle cell initiative, where they hope to triple their African American donor base within the next five years. 

“About 100,000 Americans live with the (sickle cell) disease and about 90% of them are Black of African American descent,” said Janine Hopkins, Red Cross sickle cell account manager. “We are striving to really be intentional with attracting donors who are Black and African American.”

Hopkins said that blood from the African American community is in need because blood donors tend to have a more compatible match when they are of the same ethnic background as the recipient. 

While blood donations decreased during the beginning of the pandemic, Hopkins said that there was an uptick after the governor declared blood donation as an essential service. As new COVID-19 variants arose, donations decreased again. 

Hopkins stressed the importance of blood donors, stating that people need blood for a variety of reasons. 

“Luck can’t be manufactured,” Hopkins said. “We rely on donors all across the country to roll up their sleeves and donate blood so that patients in need can have the blood that they need.”

The next Red Cross blood drive near DeKalb is on March 19 at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 675 Fox Avenue, in Sycamore.

Appointments are preferred but not required.