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In Celebration of National Sickle Cell Awareness Month New York Blood Center, Harlem Hospital Center and Civic Leaders Call on Harlem Community to Donate Blood; Photo Available


MANHATTAN, N.Y., Sept. 6 -- In recognition of National Sickle Cell Awareness Month (September), John Palmer, PhD, Executive Director, Harlem Hospital Center, was joined today by New York Blood Center (NYBC) leaders, NYC Deputy Mayor Dennis M. Walcott, healthcare and civic leaders, sickle cell patients and their families to raise awareness of the disease and the need for blood donors in the Harlem community at Harlem Hospital Center.

“Sickle Cell Disease is a debilitating disease that affects the Harlem and African-American communities especially hard,” Dr. Robert L. Jones, NYBC President and CEO. “With this event and others throughout the month, we hope to draw attention to sickle cell and the incredible need for people of African descent to donate blood, which will help provide treatment for those that are suffering.”

Sickle Cell Disease is an inherited blood disorder that affects the hemoglobin protein found in red blood cells. In persons with the disease, the red blood cells become sickle or crescent shaped due to the abnormal hemoglobin and often become lodged in blood vessels. The lack of blood flow as a result of these blockages can result in tissue damage, severe recurrent pain, strokes and organ damage. One in 500 African-Americans suffers from this debilitating disease and most require countless blood transfusions during the course of their life.

The event included remarks from Van Dunn, MD, Chief Medical Officer, NYC Health & Hospitals Corporation; Tamara N. New, MD, Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center, Harlem Hospital Center; Wendy Geringer, PhD, Director of Community Health & Research, New York Blood Center and Sadie Toodles, who discussed how donated blood has helped her Sickle Cell Disease-afflicted grandson. At the event, speakers also discussed the management of Sickle Cell Diesase in Harlem and why more donors are needed from the community.

“As a community we literally have to look to ourselves to provide the treatment needed to combat this disease,” said Deputy Mayor Walcott. “I urge all of those who are eligible and able to please donate blood. Your donation not only contributes to the health of our community, it is a great expression of our fine tradition of service.”

“Because Sickle Cell Disease is a community disease in the sense that it predominantly affects those of African descent, it is extremely crucial for African-Americans to donate blood,” said Dr. Dunn. “Those in New York City’s African-American community need to know that with regular donations, the options for treatment are greatly expanded and improved.”

In the United States, approximately 80,000 African-Americans suffer from sickle cell disease. One in every 350 African- American babies born in the U.S. has the disease and one in eight are carriers of the sickle cell trait, making it the number one genetic disease in that population. As the New York metro area’s main supplier for blood and blood products, New York Blood Center has a natural role to play in calling attention to this disease.

Ninety-five percent of sickle cell cases affect individuals of African descent. However, the disease is also found in limited numbers in persons who trace their ancestry to South and Central America, several Middle Eastern countries, India, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

Harlem Hospital is a member of New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation & Generations-plus/ Northern Manhattan Network. The Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center helps manage patients with Sickle Cell Disease.

New York Blood Center (NYBC), one of the nation’s largest non- profit, community-based blood centers, has been providing blood, transfusion products and services to patients in New York and New Jersey hospitals since 1964. NYBC includes five regional recruitment, collection and distribution operations in Manhattan, Brooklyn/Staten Island, Long Island, New Jersey and the Hudson Valley.

NYBC is also home to the Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute, the National Cord Blood Program and Milstein National Cord Blood Center, the world’s first and largest public cord blood bank. NYBC provides medical services and programs (Clinical, Transfusion and Hemophilia Services) through our medical professionals and transfusion medicine physicians.


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