“Sickle Cell disease is an inherited red blood disorder that causes pain events in the hands, feet, belly, back or chest, and anemia that results in weakness and fatigue. Symptoms can last for hours or even days.

“With sickle cell disease, red blood cells that should be round in shape take on a c-shape, like a sickle. The sickle cells die prematurely, causing a shortage of red blood cells, and can get stuck in blood vessels, clogging the flow of blood and the delivery of oxygen through the body.

“Treatment options vary between individuals, depending on the symptoms, but can include medication, pain management and blood transfusions. The only cure for sickle cell disease is a stem cell transplant, which requires a blood match (usually from a sibling).

“This World Sickle Cell Day, I ask healthy Albertans to consider becoming a blood donor to help those with sickle cell disease and their families.

“Canada’s blood supply is down by 25 per cent since April. The need for donors does not end today, tomorrow or next year. It never ends. You can book an appointment to become a donor, or to donate again, by contacting Canadian Blood Services online or by calling 1-888-236-6283.”