Beverly Chukwudozie of Evanston is a senior researcher at the University of Illinois Chicago, a mother of two, and living with sickle cell disease.
About 100,000 people in the United States have sickle cell disease. Most are of African descent. The disease causes red blood cells to harden and form a C-shape (like a sickle). When hardened, the cells can get caught in blood vessels and cause serious complications for patients. These complications can include severe pain, respiratory conditions, organ failure, and even stroke.
There is no widely used cure for sickle cell disease. However, the Red Cross supports one of the most critical sickle cell treatments of all – blood transfusions. For many patients, a close blood type match is essential and is found in donors of the same race or similar ethnicity.
Beverly credits blood donation to saving her life several times. She says blood donation is “a gift that keeps on giving,” as it helps to alleviate some of the painful symptoms of sickle cell disease. Currently Beverly works at the University of Illinois Cancer Center as a researcher in cancer and health disparities and holds Master’s Degrees in Public Health and Business Administration.
She continues to be an advocate for people with sickle cell disease like her, and encourages others to give blood.
“I am alive today because I could get a transfusion,” she said reflecting on the times blood has helped to save her life and the some 30 transfusions she’s had in her life.
She adds, “Blood transfusion is a life-saving gift, but the receiver does not get an opportunity to thank the giver or share the impact of this precious gift. Thank you to everyone who donates blood, as it is a necessary treatment for many health conditions.”
Sign up to give blood at an upcoming Red Cross blood drive and make a difference to the patients in need of blood.
September is Sickle Cell Awareness Month. Learn more about Sickle Cell Disease here.