Sisters advocate for marrow donor registry with South Texas Blood & Tissue Center

Kyra and Kami Crawford have received 100 plus blood transfusions due to sickle cell anemia

SAN ANTONIO – Sisters, 17-year-old Kami, and 15-year-old Kyra Crawford, share an unusual blood bond that can’t be broken.

They’ve dealt with extreme pain and fatigue their entire lives and now hope to help others heal from blood diseases.

“We pack each other’s go bags every time we have to go to the emergency room,” Kyra said.

Sickle Cell Anemia affects one out of every 365 Black people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disease causes blood platelets that should be round to be shaped like a nail clipping or a sickle. The result: Bouts of extreme pain and fatigue.

The siblings are hoping to raise awareness about the disproportionate chances for minorities finding bone marrow or stem cell transplants that could offer a cure.

“In a pain crisis the sickle blood cells get trapped in the blood vessels throughout the body, wherever that happens, that’s where the pain is,” Kami said. “It’s like little needles or even a hard-throbbing pain.”

Both sisters need blood transfusions every three to four weeks to help manage the conditions, so far, the pair have needed more than 100.

“It’s hard to be involved in everyday things in life, like going out with your friends, going to the movies or swimming cause you can’t go when it’s too cold or too hot,” Kami said.

Bone marrow or stem cell transplants could cure the girls, but because Black people are underrepresented on the registry, there’s only a 23% chance of them finding a match who must be from a similar genetic background.

Marrow drives that were scheduled for Black History Month at the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center were postponed because of last week’s winter storm.

Instead of sulking, the sisters are advocates for the “Be The Match” marrow registry, hoping to increase survival chances for themselves and others.

The sisters remain smiling through it all.

You can help keep their spirits up by scheduling a blood donation by calling 210-731-5590 or visiting SouthTexasBlood.org. To join the marrow registry in their honor, text K2KLUV to 61474.

Related: Gene-editing treatment shows promise for sickle cell disease

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