Harvard students are being encouraged to participate in a May 11 blood drive for victims of sickle-cell anemia.
The event, sponsored by the Charles Drew Society of the Children's Hospital at the Longwood Medical Center, will also include students from Harvard graduate schools and MIT.
Jamila A. Braswell '95, coordinator of Harvard undergraduate participation in the event, said she hopes many minority students will participate.
"There is a great need for compatible blood supplies because the people inflicted with sickle-cell anemia are usually minorities," said Braswell.
Sickle-cell anemia, a genetic disease, generally strikes people of African, southern Mediterranean and Asian descent. There is no known cure.
The disease is treated with blood transfusions, which replace defective red blood cells. Those cells, when functioning properly, carry oxygen throughout the body.
Braswell said the need for matching minority donors is especially urgent because a single non-matching transfusion can result in the development of antibodies which make future transfusions even more difficult to match.
Minorities are being especially targeted by the drive because area supplies, while currently at adequate levels, come mostly from white donors.
Braswell said she has solicited help from several minority student organizations on campus including the Black Students Association, Raza, the Asian American Association and Kuumba. The Undergraduate Council also put up funds to help with the project.
Braswell said she hopes the exposure for the blood drive would highlight the need for more research funds and heightened awareness of the disease.
Organizers plan to offer pizza, bagels and other food, as well as T-shirts, to participants, Braswell said.
On the day of the event, the Children's Hospital will provide shuttles to Longwood Medical Center every hour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., departing from Johnston Gate.