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Lia O.

Miami Lakes, Florida

“I will not give up on myself,” says 11-year-old Lia as she faces a world filled with a daunting challenge. Lia has sickle cell disease, sometimes referred to as sickle cell anemia, a disorder that primarily affects African-Americans.

Sickle cell disease is an inherited form of anemia caused by irregularly shaped red blood cells. Normal red blood cells are round and move easily through our veins. But Lia’s red blood cells are shaped more like sickles or crescent moons and can easily become stuck when moving through her body. This means that she doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells and needs blood transfusions to help her live and thrive.

Lia I am OneBlood August 2015

When the sickle shaped blood cells clump together, it can cause pain in certain areas of the body. This is easily brought on by extreme cold or extreme heat. This means that Lia cannot play sports or take part in other strenuous activities, so she focuses her creativity into drawing or painting. She also works hard to be one of the best students in her class. She makes straight A’s in school and wants to be a scientist one day to help find a cure for diseases like hers. But right now, Lia needs the help of blood donors.

Since Lia has received several blood transfusion, she needs blood from donors who are genetically similar to her. For Lia, and many with sickle cell disease, this means donors from the African-American community.

“I have been in the hospital many times and with the help of blood donors, I come out stronger every time.”


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