OKLAHOMA CITY - Presbyterian Health Foundation has awarded a $25,000 grant to the American Red Cross of Oklahoma to improve therapeutic blood transfusions for individuals diagnosed with and receiving treatment for sickle cell disease.

Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs a blood transfusion, but for those with sickle cell disease, the right match is essential.

Without it, what is intended to save a life could ultimately result in death or serious complications. Sickle cell disease is the most common genetic disease, affecting an estimated 100,000 Americans, primarily Black or African Americans, and receiving blood transfusions plays a critical role in preventing and reducing painful and often life-threatening symptoms.

Because sickle cell patients receive frequent transfusions, they build antibodies to blood, which results in increased risk of adverse reactions with each transfusion. This funding awarded for the Red Cross's Blood Diversity Program will help the Red Cross conduct comprehensive testing, typing, and matching of blood donations for sickle cell patients to create the optimal opportunity for successful blood transfusions.

"We are pleased to partner on this innovative approach to improving blood transfusion interventions for sickle cell patients right here on the Oklahoma Health Center campus," said PHF President Tom R. Gray III. "In line with our mission, improving patient care and enhancing overall quality of life is at the heart of what we aim to accomplish, and this program targets to achieve just that."

If a first-time blood donor self-identifies as having African ancestry, that donor's unit undergoes specialized testing - screening for 35 distinct antigens - for a potential sickle cell amatch anywhere in the country.

"First-time blood donors whose blood types are the best match for sickle cell patients are invited to join our Sickle Cell Fighters program," said Alice Townsend, regional CEO for the American Red Cross of Oklahoma. "Last year, 22,000 program members made at least one blood donation. Support of this program will encourage members to become regular blood donors, which is critical to helping people with sickle cell disease live with more vitality and less pain."

For more information, visit phfokc.com.

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