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Omaha sickle cell patient shares how blood transfusions keep him healthy

Miguel Ozuna is a 20-year-old living with sickle cell disease
Posted at 12:08 PM, Sep 19, 2023

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Twenty-year-old Miguel Ozuna loves to make music with his two brothers. They’re in a band started by their father, but that’s not the only thing they have in common, they all live with sickle cell disease.

“It’s a very unfortunate disease which affects people who have a genetic defect in their cells which carry oxygen in the blood,” said Dr. Aleh Bobr, medical director, Nebraska Medicine.

“I was always in the hospital missing school,” Ozuna said.

For the past two years, he has received treatment at Nebraska Medicine getting blood transfusions that make a difference in his health.

“When I wasn’t getting the transfusion, I was in the hospital with pain,” Ozuna said. “Ever since I got the transfusions and more people started helping us, I was less hospitalized.”

Dr. Bobr said there are hundreds of patients fighting sickle cell disease here in Omaha.

“It’s a significant number of people who suffer who have a very debilitating disease that needs to be treated,” Bobr said.

Blood transfusions are how the disease is treated, but it’s important the right type of blood is available for the patient.

Kari Lundeen with the Nebraska Community Blood Bank said the level of donated blood across the country is at less than a three-day supply, putting them in a blood emergency.

“Bringing more awareness will hopefully bring more people out to donate,” Lundeen said. “The blood supply needs to be more diverse because anybody can be affected.”

Ozuna also wants more people to know giving the gift of blood really does make a difference.

“There’s a lot of people with sickle cell, but they think that it doesn’t help,” he said. “I am happy that I can spread the word that it does help.”

For more information on how to donate blood contact the Nebraska Community Blood Bank and/or the American Red Cross.

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