Blood supply levels in the state are a constant concern for Mississippians with sickle cell disease. As MPB's Alexis Ware reports, these patients have an ongoing need for blood donations.
Nearly four thousand Mississippians are living with sickle cell disease, according to the Mississippi Sickle Cell Foundation. Sickle cell is the most common inherited blood disease in the United States. The sickle or crescent shaped blood cells can disrupt blood flow and cause immense pain.
Tyrah Hickman of Jackson is a sickle cell patient. She is also a nurse at the University of Mississippi Medical Center Sickle Cell Day Clinic. She says pain medicine is a daily solution for people battling the disease, but it is not always effective.
"Sometimes it doesn't work and when it doesn't work, you have to come to the hospital and you just have to get fluids and IV medicine just to help getting the blood flow going again."
Hickman says she receives blood transfusions about every four months. Many people with sickle cell rely on blood donations. In Mississippi, less than 4 percent of the population donates blood according to the Mississippi Blood Services. David Allen is the president and CEO. He says adequate blood supply is important sfor sickle cell patients.
"Today the primary treatment for sickle cell disease are blood transfusions. So, that's another reason why it's absolutely critical that we have blood on the shelves."
Sickle Cell disease disproportionately effects black people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 1 out of every 365 African Americans has the disease. The Mississippi Foundation for Sickle Cell will host its annual gala in Jackson on August 25 to boost awareness and support