The American Red Cross is encouraging eligible donors to give blood in honor of National Sickle Cell Awareness Month in September.
With sickle cell, the body makes crescent-shaped red blood cells instead of disc-shaped ones, and many people with the disease "face a lifetime of blood transfusions to help reduce the risk of stroke, damage to major organs and other complications," a Red Cross news release said.
"Since blood from donors of the same ethnic background as the recipient is less likely to cause complications, the Red Cross must maintain a diverse blood supply. This is particularly important for patients like those with sickle cell disease who may require regular blood transfusions," it said.
To make an appointment or learn more about donating blood, call 800-RED CROSS or go to www.redcrossblood.org.