Versiti Juneteenth blood drives seek rare Ro type

The blood supply is critically low in Wisconsin with less than a one-day supply on the shelves -- the lowest it's been in more than 20 years. 

Antonia Perry greeted people as they arrived Saturday, June 19 at Mt. Zion Assembly Healing Temple. She identifies as a sickle cell warrior.

"Put a face to an illness that’s out in the community," said Perry. "I call myself a survivor because I have had a stroke, and I have relied on blood transfusions to keep me alive."

Antonia Perry

She wanted to share her story to inspire others to become lifesavers.

"By donating blood, it's a miracle to me for me to be here," said Perry.

Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin hosted several blood drives honoring both Juneteenth and World Sickle Cell Awareness Day.

"We are really trying to educate our diverse donors on the importance of having a diverse blood supply," said Shannon Richmond. "We find that when a patient receives a blood transfusion, their reaction is much better when it comes from someone with the same ethnic background as themselves." 

While Richmond says all blood types are needed, Saturday's drives were aimed at trying to collect the rare Ro blood type.

"Our hospitals are really depending on us right now," said Richmond. "Less than 4% of our donors actually have this blood type. We are out trying to find people with Ro blood type and trying to encourage them to donate it so blood can be transfused into the people who need it, our patients with sickle cell disease."

Versiti Juneteenth blood drives seek rare Ro type

With the disease disproportionately affecting the African American and Hispanic communities, an hour of your time for a donation can impact three lives in your community.

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"We appreciate it, and we thank you, and we love you and continue to keep supporting," said Richmond.

As the need for donations continues, you can do your part to help by going to Versiti's website and finding blood centers or mobile drives near you.