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Rapper With Chronic Illness A Star Encourages People to Donate Blood in 'Hidden Pain' Music Video

U.K. based rapper, A Star, whose real name is Alidor Gaspar, knows what it’s like to live with chronic illness and wants to help people whose experience might be similar to his. On March 15, he released “Hidden Pain,” a new song and accompanying music video encouraging people to donate blood.

Blood donations are critical for many people living with health conditions, including A Star. The musician has sickle cell anemia, also known as sickle cell disease, an inherited condition where the red blood cells in the body are sickled, or crescent-moon-shaped, instead of round. Those cells die quickly and cause a blockage in the body. This results in a lack of blood flow that can cause pain, fatigue, and other infections.

After the rapper and grime star learned more about the statistics behind giving blood, he knew he had to do something. He told The Mighty:

I have always been an artist that is real about my struggles and faith within my music, I already had an idea for the track and that one day I would share everything in my heart about my disease. Beyond the music and my voice, I needed people to be uncomfortable in order to cause a reaction of change in mind and/or action. I needed people to see a visual representation of the pain sickle cell warriors suffer sometimes to the point of death.

Sickle cell predominately affects people of color, especially black people. It’s estimated that roughly 1 in 13 people of African descent are born with the sickle cell gene, though carrying the gene doesn’t mean you’ll develop the condition. You need two copies of the gene, one from each parent, to have the condition yourself. A Star hopes his song and music video encourages people of color, especially black people, to donate blood more often.

“It’s important because one donor can save up to three lives,” A Star said. “Currently, only 1 percent of black people in the U.K. give blood and that’s heartbreaking. It’s important because there aren’t currently any alternatives to giving blood so videos like ‘Hidden Pain’ can [have] a way in changing that.”

Blood donations are crucial for those with sickle cell because of their lack of healthy red blood cells. These blood transfusions allow blood to flow better, which helps with symptoms and other complications that might occur.

“I believe it is sometimes out of ignorance and black people not seeing the power they have in giving blood, perhaps not understanding how this affects our people and seeing it as something people just do without a real purpose behind it,” A Star said of the low donation rate among black people.

A Star hopes to give a voice to others who are going through the same thing as him, focusing on both the physical and mental health aspects of living with sickle cell.

“It is a mental battlefield having to remain positive knowing that you are to suffer pain for the rest of your life,” A Star said. “You have to mentally brace yourself for every episode, which is called a ‘crisis’ from the beginning to end and pray you make it out alive each time.”

“Hidden Pain” is out now in association with NHS GiveBlood in the U.K. It is available for purchase on all major music platforms.