Ashley Morgan was 3.5 months old when she was diagnosed with sickle cell disease and received her first lifesaving blood transfusion when she was 5.5 months old. Hundreds of transfusions later and crises that have necessitated having to relearn how to walk amongst other everyday activities, Ashley remains hopeful that one day, sickle cell awareness will be broader and support for her and her fellow warriors will be more widespread.
“We [sickle cell warriors] live with pain, pain so excruciating that it sends us into crisis. Crises brought on by simple acts of everyday living like season changes, weather, and enjoying what we like to do. And these crises last days—sometimes weeks. My wish is that one day our advocates’ voices will be louder, stronger, and larger in number. That those voices will be so loud that everyone will hear our plea for continued blood donations. I’ve survived because of the hundreds of transfusions I’ve received in my lifetime and like me, there are thousands more sickle cell warriors who count on that blood supply to help ease the pain.”
Despite the incredible challenges she has faced over her lifespan, Ashley smiles and relishes in the warmth of her circle of friends and family who support her daily. “I am so blessed to count on family and friends who are there for me every step of the way and show up when I can’t leave my bed, but so many sickle cell warriors are forging on in quiet. We need to be there for each other. Understand the disease. Understand what helps us through it and that in a very large way, the gift of donated blood makes such a difference in our lives.”
One in 3 African American blood donors are a match for people with sickle cell disease. To help ensure patients have the blood products they need, the American Red Cross is working with partners in the Black community to grow the number of blood donors who are Black. The blood that runs through our veins can ease the suffering of others — and patients battling sickle cell disease need your help now. Please schedule a blood donation appointment today by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, using the Blood Donor App or calling 1-800-RED CROSS.
“I am working on continuing to stand strong in my faith and being well enough to host blood drives. In the meantime, I implore my Black community to donate blood. For me, the generosity of blood donors has allowed me to live almost since birth, and, like me, there are thousands who need the kindness and love of blood donors.”
Written by Illinois Communications Manager Connie Esparza