Versiti hosting Juneteenth blood drive on Saturday

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Versiti is hosting 13 blood drives within its five-state footprint on Saturday to celebrate Juneteenth.

The blood center is hosting its Grand Rapids blood drive from 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at Baxter Community Center, 935 Baxter St. SE.

The blood drives are being held to help to enhance the diversity of its blood donor base and its blood supply.

Juneteenth is the oldest-known celebration signifying the end of slavery in the U.S.

June 19 also is World Sickle Cell Awareness Day. Sickle cell disease is a genetic blood disease that disproportionately impacts the Black and Hispanic communities. Patients with sickle cell disease often require regular blood transfusions of the Ro blood type, which is extremely rare, according to Versiti.

The blood center said sickle cell disease occurs 1 in every 365 African American births and 1 in every 16, 300 Hispanic American births.

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