PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – For ImpactLife, the blood supplier for Peoria-area hospitals, a diverse blood collection is vital to providing for the diverse communities it serves.

June 19, recognized as Juneteenth in the United States, shares the same day as World Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Day. The two go hand-in-hand, since sickle cell disease disproportionately affects those of African descent.

Statistics from ImpactLife show that one in 13 African-Americans have sickle cell trait, but one in three African-American blood donors is a match for a sickle cell patient.

Sickle cell disease is a disorder of the red blood cells in which the cells contain an abnormal type of hemoglobin, according to the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Inc.

Those cells can become crescent- or sickle-shaped, and cannot easily pass through small blood vessels. With less blood flow to certain parts of the body, tissues can become damaged.

There is currently no cure for sickle cell disease.

Blood transfusions are a major form of treatment for sickle cell patients, according to ImpactLife. The disease affects roughly 100,000 Americans, predominantly Black Americans.

June 19 brings awareness to a health condition that affects the Black community, but it also celebrates the end of slavery in America. In 1865, on the day that would later be called Juneteenth, the last of the enslaved people– in Galveston, Texas– were notified of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021.

ImpactLife launched its Red4Life program last year, rewarding donors– those with an antigen match for sickle cell patients– who continue to donate throughout the year.

Anyone who donates blood the week of June 20 can receive a gift card voucher or donor reward points.

To learn more about ImpactLife, or to schedule a donation, visit its website.