Family’s tragedy motivates drive to help others

By MARLAN JONES,

Sickle Cell Disease is a term used for a group of hereditary disorders of the red blood cells, affecting approximately one out of every 400 African-Americans in the United States.

According to the MS Sickle Cell Foundation  approximately 1,000,000 African Americans live in Mississippi, which means  at least 2,500 African Americans in Mississippi are living with sickle cell disease at any one time.

For thousands of Americans, living with SCD means a lifetime of painful episodes, blood transfusions and frequent trips to the hospital. These treatments can often cause complications that are just as bad as or worse than the effects of the disease itself.

SCD affects red blood cells. The presence of hemoglobin S, an abnormal hemoglobin, cause these blood cells to grow in the shape of a sickle and makes it difficult for them to pass through small blood vessels. When these vessels become blocked, oxygen has trouble reaching the tissues since hemoglobin is an oxygen carrying molecule.

Last year the Bernoudy and Anderson family, as well as the community, lost a special person. Rosalind Bernoudy passed away on January 7, 2018, after battling sickle cell for 31 years. She is survived by her husband, Willie Bernoudy; their three children, and her parents, Herbert and Deborah Anderson. The Anderson’s are members of Overflow Church. Last year following Rosalind’s passing, Overflow leadership helped organize a blood drive in her honor.

There was a blood shortage during Rosalind’s last stay in the hospital, so the importance of donating blood is not lost on her family. More than a year has passed and the family has once again hosted a blood drive in Rosalind’s honor with the hopes of helping others in need.  The blood drive was once again successful with over 50 people donating blood. Deborah Anderson explained that nearly 60 units of blood were donated. Rosalind’s friends and family will now be able to help over 150 people in need of blood.