Medical Breakthroughs: Xiomara Ellis tells her story of living with sickle cell

Medical Breakthroughs

LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)- September is National Sickle Cell Awareness month.

With the disease affecting between 70,000 to 80,000 Americans, blood blanks are needing more donations to help save lives.

Xiomara Ellis has lived with sickle cell disease all her life. It’s a disease where a person’s red blood cells are C shaped.

“They will clot up against each other and that will block oxygen flow through the vein. Wherever that happens, it’s extremely painful,” she said.

Sickle cell patients rely on blood transfusions their entire lives.

Mitzi Breaux with Vitalant says their blood supply is currently down and because sickle cell disease primarily affects African Americans, they need more African-American donors.

“Every ethnicity has different antibodies in their blood so it’s easier and better for the sickle cell patient if their blood transfusion comes from another African-American,” Breaux said. “It’s just a better match for them and the treatment will be more impactful for them.”

Xiomara says she typically goes to the hospital once a month in pain needing a transfusion.

She says she is grateful for anyone who has donated blood.

“It means everything. Honestly I still wouldn’t be here without people being kind enough to go and donate,” Ellis said. “I can’t count the blood transfusions I’ve had in my life. So if you’ve donated you’ve probably helped save my life so I appreciate it.”

For more information on how to donate blood in Acadiana, click here.

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