Troubling Times for Blood Donation

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On July 24th, Sick Cells hosted its 2nd annual Blood Drive in honor of Marqus Valentine, beloved SCD warrior and Sick Cells co-founder. This blood drive was hosted in collaboration with Versiti, a community blood donor center as well as research institute dedicated to providing life-saving interventions for those in need. The event took place on one of the hottest days of summer. Still, of the 25 people who arrived to donate at Lisle Library District in Lisle, IL, 16 were able to donate, an amount that could save up to 48 lives! All donations will go to support Marqus’s home hospital, Edward Hospital.

We’re so thankful for all the wonderful people who supported us on this day and honored Marqus’s memory. Sick Cells hosts this event annually as celebration of not only Marqus’s life but also his birthday, July 25th. 

I am always happy to share the importance of blood donation with anyone who will listen. After every transfusion, I feel better and ready to take on the world.

- Marqus Valentine, SCD Warrior

Valentine Family

Marqus once said, “I am always happy to share the importance of blood donation with anyone who will listen. After every transfusion, I feel better and ready to take on the world.” He recognized how important blood donations are for the SCD community and was a passionate advocate for donating blood.

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a group of rare, inherited blood disorders which cause red blood cells to misshapen into the form of a sickle, hence the name of the condition. 

These misshapen cells reduce the amount of healthy blood cells available to transport oxygen throughout the body by blocking flow in blood vessels. For some individuals living with SCD, chronic blood transfusions and blood exchanges are a primary treatment option. In Marqus’ case, chronic blood transfusions and chronic blood exchanges prolonged his life and gave him a higher quality of life. 

Arielle Krahenbuhl, a donor at this year’s blood drive, notes the ease with which her donation experience took place and encourages anyone to do the same to address shortages in the national blood supply. “I felt like I was in good hands so I wasn’t nervous. It’s as if you’ve gotten lab work, that’s the easiest way I can describe it.”

Amidst the pandemic, blood donations have sharply declined making blood transfusions harder to come by, especially in areas where COVID-19 related hospitalizations and surgeries have increased, draining the nation’s blood supply. It has become even more important for individuals to donate blood so that people who live with conditions, like SCD, can continue to receive their treatments on time. 

Arielle, Donor and SCD Advocate

To help support our SCD warriors, we encourage you to continue to donate, or consider becoming a blood donor, whenever and wherever possible. For those who were unable to attend our event, please visit and to look for an event near you. 

Blood Donation & SCD: Quick Facts

Information from OneBlood, Inova Blood Donor Services, and the American Red Cross

Learn more about blood donation at

This blog was written by Jennifer Salako, Sick Cells Community Engagement Intern. Jennifer is a rising junior at the University of Pennsylvania but calls California home. She is beyond excited to dive into the Sick Cells community and help to better advocate for SCD warriors everywhere.


Published August 17, 2021

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