September is Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Month!


As part of National Sickle Cell Awareness Month, Vitalant in the Mid-South and also in the Tupelo area, will test all first-time blood donors for the sickle cell trait for FREE. To make an appointment to donate blood and get tested for the sickle cell trait, click HERE.

September is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month, designated by Congress to help focus attention on the need for research and treatment of sickle cell disease. Read the President’s Proclamation here.

Everyone is encouraged to be a part of this annual emphasis to increase awareness about sickle cell disease and sickle cell trait during the month of September. Individuals and organizations can join our efforts to bring attention to sickle cell disease by sharing information about sickle cell disease; sharing information about the local sickle cell providers in the area; becoming more familiar with local resources available for individuals with sickle cell disease; and by encouraging volunteer blood donation with Vitalant, which supports SCD patients’ ongoing treatments.


Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder affecting about 100,000 people in the U.S., who most commonly are of African or Latino descent. A sickle cell disease patient can require multiple transfusions each year throughout their lifetime to alleviate their symptoms.

Sickle cell disease causes "sickle" shaped red blood cells to form that can stick together, blocking blood flow and oxygen from reaching parts of the body. This can cause extreme pain, respiratory conditions, organ failure and even a fatal stroke.

Sickle cell patients often need blood transfusions to alleviate the complications caused by their disease. A blood transfusion from a donor with a similar ethnicity can lead to better outcomes for the recipient. That is why it is so very important that donors of all backgrounds give regularly.

·         Normal red blood cells last from 90-120 days.  Sickled red blood cells last only 10-20 days, resulting in anemia and complications associated with anemia.

·          SCD occurs in about 1 out of every 365 African American births and in about one out of every 16, 300 Hispanic American births. People of any race or color can have SCD.

·         Approximately 3,000 individuals with SCD live in the Memphis metropolitan area.


While in many cases, transfusion recipients need blood matched by what we commonly refer to as blood type, pairing group A, B, AB, or O and a positive or negative Rh factor, sickle cell patients who receive regular transfusions often may need blood matched more closely than ABO & Rh antigens to ensure a safe outcome.

Sickle cell patients often need blood transfusions to alleviate the complications caused by their disease. A blood transfusion from a donor with a similar ethnicity can lead to better outcomes for the recipient. That is why it is so very important that donors of all backgrounds give regularly.

The number of transfusions a patient may require can range from 1-2 units at a time to over 8-10 units at a time depending on the severity of the crisis and the individual.  This means a SCD patient may require the help of 8-10 blood donors at a time to help them through a hospitalization.

Currently there is a shortage of blood donated by African Americans. Type O blood, which is the blood type of 50% of African Americans, is considered the most transfused blood type and is in short supply and high demand. There are more than 600 other known antigens, the presence or absence of which creates “rare blood types”. Certain blood types are unique to specific ethnic or racial groups. That is why an African American blood donation may be the best hope for a patient with SCD.

Some people who’ve never given blood before may be worried or scared about what’s involved. But really, giving blood is easy. It only takes about an hour. There is no risk of catching a disease by giving blood. Most people are able to give blood. You just have to be at least 16 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds, and be in good health, overall. Most of the time, even people with diabetes or high blood pressure can donate blood.

Once you give blood, you can encourage your friends and family to do the same by telling them what to expect and how easy it was. You can also organize a blood drive, make an announcement at neighborhood or religious functions, or to your co-workers or at fraternity or sorority meeting.

Remind your friends and families that donating blood saves lives. Everyone can make a difference through the simple act of giving blood.




The Greater Memphis Sickle Cell Partnership (GMSCP) was founded in April 2021 by four Memphis area sickle cell centers, researchers, volunteer blood providers and the state sickle cell foundation:


·         The Sickle Cell Foundation of Tennessee

·         Diggs-Kraus Sickle Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center at Regional One Health

·         Methodist Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center

·         Center for Sickle Cell Disease at UTHSC

·         St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

·         Vitalant (Local/National)


For 2023, Vitalant and the Greater Memphis Sickle Cell partners have been joined by almost 20 “community partners” as part of National Sickle Cell Awareness Month.  Community Partners are doing one or more of the following:

·         Hosting a blood drive with Vitalant.

·         Hosting a lunch and learn or other learning activity about sickle cell disease.

·         Promoting National Sickle Cell Awareness Month activities and events via social media.

We want to thank these organizations for stepping up, locking arms with Vitalant and the other Greater Memphis Sickle Cell Partnership partners and making a difference.  These Community Partners care.  And they care enough to make time to spread the word about sickle cell disease, and the many resources that exist in our community to help those who have it.  Thank you, Community Partners!!!

·         100 Black Men of Memphis

·         901 Fund

·         City of Memphis

·         Black Business Association  

·         Center for Transforming Communities

·         Christ Community Health Services

·         Church Health

·         Global Friends

·         Memphis Chapter-NAACP

·         Memphis Chapter-National Coalition of 100 Black Women

·         Memphis Medical District Collaborative

·         Memphis Medical Society

·         Methodist Healthcare Foundation

·         Memphis Riverbluff Black Nurses Association

·         Mid-South Minority Business Council Continuum

·         Memphis Urban League

·         National Black MBA Association

·         National Civil Rights Museum  

·         The Divine Nine


The  purpose of the GMSCP is for each organization to continue doing the great work it’s doing.  At the same time, as partners in helping individuals with sickle cell disease, we want to collaborate and look for those opportunities when we can do more together than we can do alone, such as the following:

•       Awareness, education, and advocacy

               (including media; clergy; government; medical & education professionals; community orgs)

•       Blood donations for sickle cell patients

               (including blood donor diversity)

•       Resources to support efforts to assist sickle cell patients

               (medical and non-medical/including wrap around services)

•       Access and understanding of sickle cell research

               (including local/national)

·         Communication between and among partners

               (monthly membership meetings, planning activities and collaborating on events)

Vitalant Community Blood Drives and Donor Centers

Vitalant has several community blood drives every month, and in recognition of Sickle Cell Awareness Month and in support of Sickle Cell Warriors across the Mid-South, donors will receive an exclusive Sickle Cell Awareness T-shirt. Click HERE to make an appointment to donate at a September community blood drives below or schedule an appointment at one of the 4 Memphis-area donor centers by clicking HERE.




Rona’s Story: Living Well with Sickle Cell:

Living with Sickle Cell Disease: Bryce's Story:

Living with Sickle Cell Disease: Shaniya's story:

Methodist Sickle Cell Center: Shaniqua Irby:

The Untold Stories of Sickle Cell Disease - Faith:


·         Be an advocate and support individuals with sickle cell disease.

·         Be informed of area resources and support available from local providers.

·         Encourage people of color to be tested for the sickle cell trait.

·         Volunteer to donate blood at a Vitalant blood drive, or Memphis area Vitalant donor center.

QR Code

Visit us at

Find us @vitalant

Get key information like recent lab orders, medications, diagnoses, and more!