June 19 is Juneteenth, a national holiday commemorating the end of American slavery.

It is also World Sickle Cell Day.

For me, it’s an opportunity to raise awareness about sickle cell disease and the challenges patients face while battling the chronic condition.

Through blood donation, I discovered that I was a match for patients living with sickle cell disease. Today I am a proud sickle cell warrior.

In the U.S., it is estimated that over 100,000 people — the majority of whom are of African descent — have sickle cell disease and may require hundreds of blood transfusions throughout their lifetime to help manage their disease.

One in three African American blood donors are a match for people with sickle cell. Having a diverse blood supply is one way to help ensure patients have ongoing access to compatible blood to help avoid serious complications.

I am working with the American Red Cross to sponsor a Juneteenth Blood Drive with two donation locations: the Bates Mill Atrium in Lewiston and the Westbrook Community Center in Westbrook.

Summer months can be a challenging time to maintain the blood supply. I invite all Mainers to roll up a sleeve and donate lifesaving blood on June 19. Appointments are required.

Phyllis Arnold Rand, Lewiston, American Red Cross volunteer

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.