Six years ago, LaToya and Brett Cypress welcomed their twin sons, Noah and Gabriel, into the world.
Six months later, they were informed that both children had sickle cell anemia, an inherited group of disorders that cause red blood cells to contort into a sickle shape and quickly die, leaving a shortage of healthy red blood cells which block blood flow and cause pain and discomfort.
More than 100,000 Americans are affected by the disease, which disproportionately affects 1 in 13 blacks.
The condition means that the Cypresses are familiar with the blood-donor process. Their children have undergone more than 20 blood transfusions since birth, often four-hour procedures.
To that end, and to honor Black History Month, several of the city's popular radio hosts from iPower 92.1, KISS 99.3, Praise 104.7 and Newstalk 1240 will be taking part in a blood drive at White Oak Village, 4500 S. Laburnum Ave. on Monday, Feb. 29, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“Blood donors mean the world to me,” LaToya Cypress says. “The simple and selfless act of donating blood means that in less than 24 hours, my boys experience a complete turnaround health-wise following a blood transfusion."
The radio personalities will be positioned along with blood drive officials in a storefront where they will join in efforts to collect blood. Complimentary food will be provided for donors along with prize raffles.
In preparation for donation Feb. 29, blood donors are asked to eat well, stay hydrated and arrive with proper identification. Blood donors must be at least 17 (or 16 with parental consent). For more information, visit vablood.org, or call 800-989-4438.
As mentioned in a press release, the process of blood collection, storage and transfusion was pioneered by Washington native Dr. Charles Richard Drew, a black doctor who pioneered large-scale blood banks during World War II and who envisioned blood drives and the use of refrigerated "bloodmobiles."