A campaign that underscores the importance of blood donation in the treatment of sickle cell anemia

Montréal, January 28, 2021 – Héma-Québec is launching a campaign to promote the importance of blood donation in the treatment of sickle cell anemia, an inherited blood disorder that is especially prevalent in the Black population.

Sickle cell anemia is a chronic disease that causes severe, recurring bouts of pain. One of the treatments to improve the quality of life of individuals with this disorder consists of blood exchanges (erythropheresis) to remove their red blood cells and replace them with those of healthy donors. This procedure is generally performed every four weeks and requires red blood cells from 10 different donors. On a yearly basis, one person with sickle cell anemia will require blood from an average of 130 different donors.

The challenge becomes even greater when one realizes that persons who receive blood transfusions on a frequent basis are at risk of developing antibodies that can cause adverse reactions during a transfusion. One solution to reduce these adverse reactions has been shown to be a donor and a recipient with a similar genetic background.

Mobilizing donors from Black communities can make a major difference in the quality of life of persons with sickle cell anemia who require frequent transfusions.

Since Héma-Québec initiated its awareness program about sickle cell anemia in 2009, nearly 9,000 new blood donors have been recruited from within Black communities. Despite these encouraging results, the number of persons with sickle cell anemia requiring blood exchanges has also increased and has now reached 200. This means that a potential 26,000 blood donations will be needed yearly to improve their quality of life. Héma-Québec is launching an appeal this year to mobilize and recruit donors from within the Black population to meet the needs of patients with sickle cell anemia from these communities.

This year’s campaign appears on the new #inourblood platform, and video clips featuring testimonials from donors and a recipient will be broadcast on social media. Héma-Québec is also reaching out to influencers to help spread the word about the challenges of sickle cell anemia. At the end of January, they will be joining their voices to that of Héma-Québec on Instagram to remind Black communities of their important contribution to the collective blood supply. A website at https://sicklecellanemia.hema-quebec.qc.ca/en will also support this campaign.

About Héma-Québec

Héma-Québec’s mission is to efficiently meet the Québec population’s needs for blood and other high-quality biological products of human origin. Héma-Québec has more than 1,300 employees, nearly 225,000 donors of blood, stem cells, breast milk and human tissue, as well as thousands of volunteers at blood drive sites. Héma-Québec delivers nearly 750,000 human-derived biological products to Québec hospitals every year to meet patients’ needs.

Give blood. Give life.

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