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Roanoke family urges Black people to donate blood amidst shortage

With one son’s memory and two others' ongoing battle, they’re pushing for blood donations

ROANOKE, Va. – A Roanoke family is asking for help to meet the urgent need for more blood donations from Black people.

“We know that this cause was not given to us by accident,” said Nicole Ross.

“It really showed me the real warriors that my sons are,” said Tommy Page.

Though Ross and Page are no longer married, they are still passionate advocates for sickle cell anemia, a disease all three of their sons were born with and one, their oldest, died from.

Nicole Ross and Tommy Page's oldest son died from sickle cell anemia.
Nicole Ross and Tommy Page's oldest son died from sickle cell anemia. (WSLS 10)

“It was just really hard because it looks like a normal child, at the drop of a dime they’re in the hospital for a week,” Ross said.

With one son’s memory and two others' ongoing battle, they’re pushing for Black people to donate blood.

Most sickle cell patients are Black and are much more likely to find a compatible blood match from a donor who is Black; however, that blood can be hard to come by, which Ross and Page have seen firsthand.

“There was a time when we had to wait until blood became available from Richmond because we didn’t have it in this area,” Ross said.

“You’re already dealing with watching your son go through a pain crisis and knowing that blood transfusion is the only thing that’s going to make this thing subside and waiting,” Page said.

Donations are now lower than ever because of the coronavirus pandemic, leading the Red Cross to issue an urgent need for Black blood donors.

Donating blood is what Ross and Page call a simple act to make a life-changing difference and allow a legacy to live on.

“It just gives my son an opportunity, both of my sons the opportunity to live another day,” Ross said.

“I’ve seen young people actually live better lives. I’ve seen people know about this. He did that. He did that,” Page said.

The Red Cross is holding a blood drive in Roanoke specifically targeting to help sickle cell patients on Sept. 29 from 12 to 6 p.m.


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