Tratavia Hardmon’s son Treyneil was diagnosed with sickle cell disease (SCD) at birth and, as a first-time parent, she was thrown for a loop. “He’s our first child, and he had a chronic illness. It was overwhelming in the beginning,” she says. She credits the nursing staff at Children’s Wisconsin for helping her to identify signs and triggers of SCD. “It was really hard, especially when we were introduced to blood transfusions. I had a lot of anxiety at first,” she says. “It was complicated, but we have a great team at Children’s Wisconsin.”
Treyneil has received chronic blood transfusions on and off throughout his life, often for six months or a year at a time. “Needing blood is something very vital to his condition,” Tratavia says. “He has more energy after the blood transfusions; they give him an energetic boost.” However, Treyneil sometimes experiences severe allergic reactions to donated blood. Doctors have tried to find one individual donor who can give regularly whenever he needs a transfusion, but it hasn’t been easy. “We know how crucial blood donation is to our community,” Tratavia says. “But people don’t donate often, and it’s people in our community who can use donations, especially people with sickle cell.”
Now, she’s on a mission to educate the African American community about the importance of donating blood to help sickle cell patients like her son. “There are all these stereotypes and misconceptions that aren’t true,” she says. “I think it’s important to get out there and identify with people and the community and say, ‘Hey, I look like you, and I donate,’ or, ‘I look like you and I need to receive blood.’”
Because Tratavia carries sickle cell trait, she is unable to donate blood. She hopes that others will hear her story and be inspired to donate and save lives like Treyneil’s. “If the tables were turned, what would you do?” she asks. “Our sickle cell patients need blood. A small portion of your day could change somebody’s life drastically.”
People need people, make a difference in someone’s life by donating blood.
We must rely on each other for the gift of blood, and patients in your community rely on the generosity of Versiti’s blood donors to help. Please consider scheduling an appointment to donate. If this is your first time, donating blood is quick, easy and relatively painless. And, it is a great way to give back and help patients in your community.