The Valerie Fund held its second annual Sickle Cell Awareness Blood Drive on Saturday at Seton Hall in conjunction with The Three Doctors Foundation's annual health walkathon. The organization achieved its goal of bringing in new blood donors of African descent—nearly three times as many as at its first drive less than a year ago—who may be matches for local children with sickle cell disease.
Exact matches for children afflicted by the disease—who often require blood transfusions to stave off strokes that can lead to learning disabilities or even death—are only found among donors who share an ethnic background with the recipient. This can make matches hard to find, since there's a shortage of African-American blood donors.
Testimonials were given by DeLeesa Obrien, 20, who's treated at the Valerie Fund Center at St. Barnabas; Tyler, who's treated at The Valerie Fund Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia/Voorhees Section; and Khaliah Moon, whose daughter is treated at the Valerie Fund Center at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. These patients receive blood transfusions every four to six weeks.
New York Jets' defensive back James Ihedigbo threw his weight behind the cause by donating blood at the drive.
Those who wish to make a blood donation should call the Blood Center of New Jersey to schedule a donation and use the sponsor code 32681 to attribute their donation to this initiative.
For more information, visit www.thevaleriefund.org.