In the Burroughs | Children's Minnesota | The Kid Experts

Please donate blood. Especially if you're Black.

We can’t talk our way to equity. We have to act. And not just acts of charity. Actions that will change unjust processes and systems. 

For this quarter’s equity action, I’m asking that you give of yourself. Literally. 

One out of every 365 African American babies born in the United States has sickle cell disease. Mikayla Sarai was just 6 months old when her parents learned she had it. Now 15, she’s been hospitalized more than 100 times in her young life. 

“Despite this disease, Mikayla Sarai is so positive and active,” says her mom Demitrea Kelley. “She loves to dance, run track, play volleyball. When we go to the ocean, she stays in it all day. You’d never know how much she’s suffering.” 

There’s no cure for sickle cell disease. But blood transfusions help with the painful symptoms. And blood from Black donors has specific properties that make it a better match for Black people fighting sickle cell disease. 

You see where I’m going with this. Bottom line, we need more Black people to donate blood. 

Here’s another reason why. 

Demitrea and her family have been searching for a blood donor match for Mikayla Sarai so she can have a bone marrow transplant. A transplant could radically improve her quality of life by eliminating her pain, the need to take medicine and many of the complications she faces every day.  

If we can increase the number of African American blood donors, we increase the chances that matches for Mikayla Sarai, and others with sickle cell disease, will be found.  

Demitrea and Mikayla Sarai

“You could literally save my daughter’s life by donating blood.” Demitrea says. “She didn’t ask for this disease; she was born with it. You never know if you or someone you love will face a similar condition. So please help if you can.”

Me and my daughter, Teresa, who is also fighting sickle cell disease.
Me and my daughter, Teresa, who is also fighting sickle cell disease.

Monday, June 19, is World Sickle Cell Awareness Day. The city of Minneapolis released a proclamation in honor, noting, “Due to patterns of racial and health inequities in this country, the sickle cell disease population has been marginalized and underrepresented in the realms of research, data collection, education, funding, and access to quality care across the healthcare continuum.” 

This is where the equity action comes in. 

Monday, June 19 is also Juneteenth, the perfect day to take action by donating blood. The American Red Cross is hosting an event and I invite you to join: 

Red Cross Blood Drive 
June 19, 2023, 12-6 p.m.  
Minneapolis Cider Room 
701 SE 9th Street 
Minneapolis, MN

If you can, I urge you to donate. Demitrea and Mikayla Sarai urge you to donate. If you can’t, maybe you know someone who can. If you can’t make it to the blood drive on June 19, there’s always another opportunity to take equity action. Learn more about when and where you can donate blood at   

James Burroughs

James Burroughs
Senior vice president, government and community relations, chief equity and inclusion officer

James Burroughs is the senior vice president, government and community relations, chief equity and inclusion officer at Children's Minnesota. He is responsible for advancing equity and inclusion in all parts of the organization.
Follow James on Twitter and LinkedIn.