Blood drive organized to help Michigan woman fight lupus

Stricken with lupus and kidney failure, Michigan native Pricilla Cross, mother of two, is in desperate need of blood donors with the rare blood protein for a transfusion that may save her life.

This could possibly be the last of many transfusions that 36-year-old Cross has had over the years.

The Lupus Foundation of America defines lupus as a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect various parts of the body, especially the skin, joints, blood, and kidneys.

Normally, the body makes antigens that protect against foreign materials. With lupus, the body loses its ability to distinguish between the foreign materials and its own cell tissue and, therefore, begins attacking itself. The result of this is inflammation, injury to tissue and pain.

Bethany L. Cordes, a psychology student at Grand Valley State University, is a close friend of Cross. “We have been friends for over a year,” Cordes said. Cordes has spent countless hours doing research and holding blood drives to help her friend. Although Cross’ blood type is O positive, one of the most common, she may receive donors with O Negative blood types, under one condition.

“Pricilla’s condition requires blood proteins that exist in only one in 20,000 African-Americans,” Cordes said.

She added that Cross’ body has undergone so many transfusions over the years that she has built up many antibodies to the blood.

Also a part of the donor coordination efforts, Cordes said friends and family are “running out of options” and “are willing to do whatever it takes.”

After exploring what she thought were all possible options, Cordes had another idea.

She mentioned that one of the best places to go would be a predominately black college or university campus where the largest congregation of African Americans can be found.

She contacted FAMU.

According to the Web site, FAMU is the nation’s largest historically black college or university.

The black population at Grand Valley State University is five percent, as specified by College Spark Notes.

Though many drives are being organized at GVSU, Cross is still in need of donors.

Jennifer Smith, deputy surgeon general for the Student Government Association at FAMU was contacted by a local blood center.

“We have already set up a blood drive and we are searching for donors, students or otherwise, since (Cordes) has called upon us for help,” she said.

“I received an e-mail from the Southeastern Community Blood Center on Riggins Road,” Smith said.

“When I was notified that Miss Cross was requesting FAMU’s help, (SGA and S.I.S.T.U.H.S Inc.) were on it,” she said.

Cordes has also made efforts to organize blood drives at Fisk University and Lincoln University.

“(Cordes) sent an email to our CEO looking for target African-Americans, namely FAMU, that were willing to donate,” said Dana Fagg, the area blood drive coordinator for the SCBC.

“She specifically requested FAMU.”

The FAMU blood drive is scheduled for April 18 on at the Set.

The Blood Mobile will be parked on The Set from 12:30-4:30 p.m.

For more information, contact the SGA at 850-599-3624 or visit

Contact Stankeisha Burchell at