GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Versiti Blood Centers in Michigan are hosting special sickle cell blood drives Saturday in hopes of raising more awareness about the disease.
According to Spectrum Health, more than 100,000 people live with sickle cell disease in the United States. It occurs in one in 365 African American births and one in 16,300 Hispanic-American births.
The blood drive in Grand Rapids will take place at the Baxter Community Center from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Saturday.
Donors will get a free t-shirt and a gift card.
Due to the pandemic, people are asked to wear masks and arrive early to get a temperature check and pre-screening before their appointment.
Officials with Spectrum Health say there are misconceptions among communities of color when donating blood and they want people to know that it is safe.
“One of the misconceptions and one of the reasons African Americans, we are known for not donating blood, but the misconception is that a lot of people feel that donating blood is unsafe, unclean, some people feel that their blood products are going to be used. They’re afraid that there’s going to be testing and other science experiments on the blood and that is just a big misconception,” said Lisa Lowery, the section chief of adolescent medicine and young adult at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.