The CTU Blood Drive will also include a panel discussion on sickle cell disease and its intersection with Black maternal health

CHICAGO–As the country kicks off Black History Month, the Chicago Teachers Union, the CTU Foundation, educators from the union’s Human Rights Committee and the American Red Cross will host an afternoon-long blood drive and an evening panel discussion Thursday centered around sickle cell anemia and its intersection with Black maternal and birthing healthcare issues. The event is cosponsored by both The National Pan-Hellenic Council of Central Suburban Chicago and Sickle Cell Disease Association of Illinois.

The CTU panel discussion and blood drive come on the heels of an announcement by UChicago Medicine that they will be the first in the country to offer gene therapy for sickle cell disease.

“For the Black community to thrive and be healthy, we need more blood donors that look like us, especially to help our community siblings who struggle with sickle cell disease,” CTU President Stacy Davis Gates said. “As educators and residents of this city, we know we are a critical part of ensuring that our neighborhoods are healthy. That’s why hosting blood drives like this have become a critical part of our fight to establish safer and stronger communities.”

This year, to commemorate Black History Month, the blood drive will focus on the importance of sickle cell awareness and maternal health, with a panel of doctors and educators sharing the legacy of Henrietta Lacks. Lacks’ own maternal health struggle was identified by doctors when she was pregnant and complained about a knot in her stomach. She was eventually treated for cervical cancer and her unique cells were stolen for research that revolutionized sickle cell treatment.

It is estimated that over 100,000 people have sickle cell disease and may require regular blood transfusions throughout their lifetime. In 2021, The American Red Cross launched a national initiative to reach more Black blood donors to help patients with sickle cell disease and improve health outcomes.

WHAT:Blood drive for sickle cell disease and maternal health
WHO:The Chicago Teacher Union
The CTU Foundation
The American Red Cross
The National Pan-Hellenic Council of Central Suburban Chicago
Sickle Cell Disease Association of Illinois
WHEN:CTU Blood Drive
Thursday, February 1, 2024
2:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Panel discussion on treatment of sickle cell disease
Thursday, February 1, 2024
5:00 pm – 6:00 pm
WHERE:The Chicago Teachers Union
1901 West Carroll Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60612
The Chicago Teachers Union represents nearly 30,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in Chicago Public Schools, and by extension, the more than 300,000 students and families they serve. The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third-largest teachers local in the United States. For more information please visit the CTU website at