Blog of Bloodworks Northwest

Blood donations help kids with sickle cell disease live a normal life

By Alix Dassler, ARNP, advanced practice provider, Seattle Children’s Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic, Sickle Cell Program.

My life’s work is taking care of children with sickle cell disease, who are mainly kids of color. It’s a rare blood disorder that primarily affects people of African, Middle Eastern, and Latin American origin.

Many of my patients rely on monthly blood transfusions to prevent severe complications from sickle cell, including childhood stroke.

Without transfusions, some of these children would not survive. Many others would be hospitalized with excruciating pain or have severe pulmonary [lung] complications. They couldn’t do something as routine as go to school.

My goal is to help kids live as normal a life as possible, and blood transfusions help them do that.

It literally helps them live a normal life.

Alix Dassler, ARNP

It’s much easier to find a match for a child of African descent if the donor is also of African descent, and the same goes for children from other racial and ethnic groups where we see sickle cell disease more often.

It is so important that our donor pool is as diverse as our patient population because finding a match for someone with sickle cell disease can be really challenging.

The more donors and more diverse donors we have, the higher the likelihood of finding a match.

Recent events have brought to our attention that issues tied to race still exist throughout the structure of our society. For those interested in supporting the health and wellness of our Black and Brown communities, donating blood is a great way to do that.

I’m extremely grateful for Bloodworks Northwest, particularly for their outreach the diverse communities they serve to increase donations for patients like mine.

I appreciate the specialized physicians who work at Bloodworks who help take care of our kids who are living with sickle cell to make sure they are getting the correct blood transfusion safely.

We are all bound by blood. Did you know that Bloodworks’ HLA lab helps match frequently transfused individuals, like Alix’s young sickle cell patients, with the highly specialized blood they need to avoid life-threatening transfusion reactions, as well as performs the testing for organ transplants for patients in need across the Pacific Northwest?

September 4, 2020 1:56PM

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