Roanoke, Va. (WFXR) — Every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood and for someone with Sickle Cell Anemia blood transfusions are needed regularly. Sickle Cell Disease occurs among one out of every 365 black or African births, and for Nicole Ross of Roanoke, three of her four children have suffered with the disease.
Nicole Ross learned that her three sons had sickle cell disease at their newborn screening. Her son’s blood cells contort to a sickle shape, leaving a lack of healthy red blood cells.
“They lack oxygen and they’re really sticky so when they’re in crisis they begin to get stuck between the capillaries and things like that and it’s extremely painful.”Nicole Ross, Mother and Cofounder for Faith for a Cure
Nicole says in most cases blood transfusions are the only thing that can ease disease symptoms and prevent complications.
“It is such a need for these transfusions and it’s heartbreaking as a mother to have to watch your child suffer knowing that there’s absolutely nothing you can do to take the pain away.”Nicole Ross, Mother and Cofounder for Faith for a Cure
Unfortunately, Nicole has endured the biggest heartbreak one can experience with Sickle Cell Disease, losing her son John Anthony Page at the age of sixteen ten years ago.
“You have to think from the mindset of his two younger siblings that have the same disease that took his life, “Will I make it to see sixteen? Will I see another day? When I go to the hospital is this the time that I’m not gonna come home?” It’s heart wrenching to see that fear in their eyes.”Nicole Ross, Mother and Cofounder for Faith for a Cure
What heightens this fear is the ability to get a viable blood match for the numerous and necessary blood transfusions, which means specific demographics need to donate blood.
“We specifically need folks of African descent or Latino decent to give blood. There are certain components in the blood that help with the transfusion so there isn’t rejection in the body of the folks with sickle cell.”Jackie Grant, Executive Director of SW Chapter of the American Red Cross
There are many out there looking to their community to donate blood and give the gift of life. To learn more about how you can donate and upcoming events with the American Red Cross, click here.