Cincinnati Family Encourages African Americans to Donate Blood for Sickle Cell Anemia Patients

In Cincinnati, there are two children, Taryn and King Walker. They are 13 and 11 years old respectively. Taryn and King are excellent students and attend the School for Creative and Performing Arts. Their lives are fairly normal for the majority of the month. But once or twice every month they must get a blood transfusion to stay alive. Read more about this story from wcpo.com here.
Taryn and King both have sickle cell anemia. These two children need between 15-20 blood transfusions every year to avoid severe and painful complications from their disease.

Although the siblings are now approaching their adolescent years, they have been having monthly blood transfusions since infancy.

Sickle cell anemia is an inherited disease that is caused by mutated hemoglobin that makes red blood cell sickle, or crescent shaped, and they are unable to pass through small blood vessels which can lead to organ damage.

Therefore, Taryn and King must get regular blood transfusions, because the lifespan of their red blood cells is between 14 and 21 days. By comparison, a healthy person’s blood cells last up to 120 days.

If the children do not get the transfusion on time, they will become tired and weak. In fact, Taryn had to change her major from ballet at school to technical theatre because she was too tired to keep up with the physical rigor.
Their mother, Charmelle Walker, constantly has to worry if there will be enough matching blood donations to sustain her children, especially as they grow older. The disease mostly affects African Americans, with one in every 500 black children having sickle cell anemia.

With blood transfusions, patients usually do better with blood from someone with the same genetic heritage, which means Taryn and King benefit the most from blood donated by African Americans. However, only 4% of blood donors in the city are African Americans.

The right blood match is crucial.
The Walker family wants to spread the message that blood donations are vital and positively affect people’s lives. Charmelle, the mother, is an advocate for raising awareness about this issue and is also the secretary of the Sickle Cell Alliance Foundation.

King, who is a strong baseball and basketball fan says, “I wish someone would find a cure for sickle cell already.”

Donors in the Cincinnati area can make an appointment by calling (513) 451-0910 or visiting hoxworth.org.


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