NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Whether you’re black or white your blood runs red, but when it comes to treating certain diseases, diversity matters.

The American Red Cross has an urgent need for African American blood donors right now.

Michelle Ellis Young, Executive Director of the Coastal Virginia Chapter told WAVY,  “It’s no secret that COVID-19 has disproportionately affected the African American community and with that has come a huge decrease in our blood donations for the community.” 

Ellis Young said donations are down 50% since mid-March and that could be a big problem for those suffering with sickle cell anemia.  It’s an extremely painful blood disorder that can lead to tissue and organ damage and even strokes.  It’s estimated to affect up to 4,500 children and adults in Virginia.

“We’re really looking to partner with larger facilities and our African American community partners to get the message out and the education piece is what’s critical,” Ellis Young said.

Blood transfusions are a critical treatment.  Some patients require them monthly, making the need for donations constant, but not every donor can help. The blood must contain a certain antigen and African American donors are most likely to be a match.

“Of course we’re following all of the safety protocols, continuous wiping, face masks on both parties,” said Ellis Young.

She encourages anyone who can to make an appointment to donate at

 You can also sign up there for a donor drive specifically targeted toward the African American community. It will  take place June 5 from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. at Mount Lebanon Baptist Church,  1141 Campostella Road in Norfolk.

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