Sickle Cell Society releases video of patient's life saving treatment

Bola Receives an Exchange Blood Transfusions

Bola receives an Exchange Blood transfusion in Sickle Cell Society's new video - Credit: Sickle Cell Society

A Harlesden charity has released a new video of a sickle cell patient and her life-saving treatment reliant on blood donations.

Bola was first diagnosed with sickle cell at 10 months old and her parents were told she wouldn’t live to see her 11th birthday.

Bola appeared in a video for the Sickle Cell Society to raise awareness of the condition

Bola appeared in a video for the Sickle Cell Society to raise awareness of the condition - Credit: Sickle Cell Society

Growing up she experienced many of the symptoms associated with sickle cell, including moments of excruciating pain, with hospitals becoming her second home

The Sickle Cell Society has collaborated with Terumo Blood and Cell Technologies to highlight Exchange Blood Transfusions, a life-saving treatment for sickle cell and the need for ethnically matched blood.

A spokesperson said: "There is an urgent need for more black and mixed race blood donors so that people with sickle cell disorder can be treated with the ethnically matched blood they need."

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Currently only 1.5 per cent of people who donate blood are of black heritage.

However, exchange blood transfusions rely on ethnically matched blood and a match is most likely to come from a donor of the same ethnicity.

Automated Red Blood Cell Exchange Machine

Automated Red Blood Cell Exchange Machine - Credit: Sickle Cell Society

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Sickle cell is an inherited blood disorder where pain occurs when the cells change shape after oxygen has been released.

The red blood cells then stick together, causing blockages in the small blood vessels and excruciating pain.

Complications include stroke, acute chest syndrome, blindness, bone damage and priapism (a persistent, painful erection of the penis).

The condition can damage organs such as the liver, kidney, lungs, heart and spleen.

Bola took part in the video to “help create a first-hand experience of the life of someone with sickle cell disorder, to raise awareness of the impact of the condition on the friends of family of people with SCD and to raise awareness of the treatment and support that is now available.”

Three years ago the mum of two was in intensive care and close to dying.

No treatment worked until her hospital tried an exchange blood transfusion that enables doctors to exchange a patient's red blood cells with donor red blood cells that do not contain the sickle haemoglobin.

Bola and her family

Bola and her family - Credit: Sickle Cell Society

Bola has seen a massive improvement to her quality of life following treatment.

She now receives her blood transfusions via a process where the transfusion process is carried out by a machine, rather than manually which makes treatment quicker and easier, reducing time spent in hospital.

To view the video visit

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