COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — September is dedicated to spreading awareness of sickle cell disease, affecting more than 100,000 people in the U.S. a day, the majority being people of color.
For one local mother who lost her child to the disease, it’s led her to raise awareness through local blood drives and organizations here in Columbus.
“She was full of energy, even though Faith had sickle cell, I let her do whatever she wanted to do,” said Felice Thomas, President of the Faith Thomas Foundation.
As a mother to a child with sickle cell disease, Thomas says she wanted her daughter Faith to have the best life possible. Thomas let her compete in sports and other activities, given she was healthy enough. Eventually, the disease took her daughter’s life.
“She had to have a procedure done, and we never expected anything to happen from that, but I ended up seeing my daughter die in front of me three times, and she never woke up,” said Thomas.
Thomas is not alone in her pain.
“I lost my sister to it in 2018, she died from complications of it,” said Brandon Ray, a Columbus resident and sickle cell patient.
Ray also lives with sickle cell anemia and works to spread awareness about the disease to others.
“For me I take about 10 different medications a day, so it can get kind of overwhelming being in and out the hospital, you know you really got to maintain a nice, healthy lifestyle,” said Ray.
Thomas is spreading the message through an organization named in honor of her daughter, the Faith Thomas Foundation. She said the group not only raises funds and awareness for the disease through blood drives, but also works to serve those living with sickle cell from childhood to adulthood.
“As a parent or at that time, I took it for granted as far as blood donations, and I think there’s a lot of people out there that take for granted when their family member needs blood donation,” said Thomas.
Columbus Public Health also held a blood drive on Wednesday in partnership with the Red Cross, with around 25 to 30 donors. They said the best way to help fight sickle cell disease is to donate blood.
Click on the links below to schedule an appointment or visit one of these sites in Columbus later this month:
- Sept. 21 Centerpoint Church at 620 McCutcheon Rd. in Gahanna, 4 to 8 p.m. (Versiti)
- Sept. 22 Lower Level at 77 N. Front St. in Columbus, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (American Red Cross)
- Sept. 24 Habiba Bankston’s Blood Drive at 818 N. Rose Ave. in Columbus, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Versiti)
- Sept. 26 Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging at 3776 S. High St. in Columbus, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (American Red Cross)