A London mum from Ealing who has sickle cell is encouraging more people from African and Caribbean communities to give blood which saves her life and others.
Siliana Coelho, 24, was among 300 specially invited NHS Blood and Transplant supporters attending a special screening at Hackney Picturehouse of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
NHS Blood and Transplant has partnered with the Marvel Studios film in the next stage in its ‘Not Family, But Blood’ campaign to encourage more people of Black heritage to donate blood to help sickle cell patients, amongst others.
Due to having sickle cell, Siliana receives blood every six weeks and shared her personal story for the campaign launch by explaining that she would not be alive without donors and why matched blood is so important.
Siliana who was diagnosed at birth revealed the impact sickle cell has on her life. She experiences frequent episodes of excruciating pain. Her worst crisis came in 2018 when the sickle cells blocked the blood vessels in her lungs. She needed an emergency red cell exchange and spent three weeks in hospital. The following year she shared a video of herself experiencing an agonising crisis which went viral on Twitter.
She said of attending the film preview: “It was an amazing experience meeting all types of people coming together for one cause – to raise awareness of the urgent need for more Black heritage blood donors – while also reaping the rewards to enjoy it as one big community. Great night, great people and more! It was also a great opportunity for people to find out their blood type and to spread the message about why ethnically matched blood is so important for people like me.”
Zeeshan Asghar, Head of Commercial Partnerships for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “We were delighted to welcome Siliana to the preview screening as part of our collaboration with Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. We very much hope she enjoyed the event. By sharing her story about living with sickle cell, Siliana has helped to raise awareness of the life-changing difference blood donors make – not only for herself but for the many other patients who rely on matched blood.”
Zeeshan added: “We hope that the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever collaboration will help us to reach a new Black audience with this powerful message, and encourage more people of Black African and Black Caribbean heritage to become blood donors.”
Dr Farrukh Shah, Medical Director of Transfusion for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “The critical shortage of blood donations from people of a Black heritage means many sickle cell patients often receive less well-matched blood. While this is clinically suitable, it can pose a longer-term risk to patients who receive regular transfusions. We urgently need more Black heritage donors to come forward. Giving blood is quick, easy and safe.”
To register to give blood and book and appointment, visit: http://www.blood.co.uk or call 0300 123 23 23.