CHICAGO (WLS) -- People living with sickle cell anemia need blood transfusions to live a life with less pain.
"Every stage of my life I've encountered complications that have deterred of delayed a lot of things that I had planned," said Beverly Chukwudozie.
Chukwudozie is a mother, a wife and a student currently working on her Ph.D., all while living with the pain of sickle cell anemia, which causes her blood cells to take a sickled shape.
"That causes excruciating pain for me," she said. "It's like knives going through your body. I would read and study in the hospital to come out and you know, take exams, I will hand off assignments to professors and on my way to an ER visit or a hospitalization."
Many times blood transfusions are the only treatments that provide relief.
"There is nothing that they can do or give me if that blood is not available. There's nothing else that can replace that blood," Chukwudozie explained.
Now she is urging people to give blood, even if it feels inconvenient.
"I cannot donate blood it is a gift that somebody gives to me," she said. "I say a prayer for whoever donates to me because it's very important that I'm able to leave the hospital and come back to care for my family."
Her family includes two sons, Alec and Jeffrey who are 12 and 9 years old. Chukwudozie said they're energetic boys who demand most of her energy on a daily basis. She said there's no love like the love of her children, and blood donations allow her the opportunity to be present with them instead of in pain.
"Somebody's life may depend on your particular blood," she said.
Sickle cell anemia affects Black people at a disproportionate rate. If you'd like to give blood, click here to find out more about ABC7 Chicago's Great Chicago Blood Drive in conjunction with the American Red Cross.
The Great Chicago Blood Drive is scheduled for January 17th and 18th at six locations across the area.