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Patient and doctor work to raise awareness of sickle cell

Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 8:16 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - June 19 is World Sickle Cell Awareness Day.

Health experts are working to raise awareness of the disease and the challenges associated with it.

Doctors say sickle cell is a red blood disorder that is inherited. Children at risk of the disease are screened at birth.

The disease can change the shape of red blood cells to form a sickle.

Kenya Thompson was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia as a child and faced many challenges growing up. However, she says she has a great support system.

“When a person has sickle cell anemia, just like any other illness or disease, you need a support system. You need people behind you that can support you and your weakest moments. If I didn’t have my mother, I don’t know where I would be. She is not only my mother, my best friend but my caregiver. So not only does the sickle cell affects the patient, but it affects the family,” said Kenya Thompson a sickle cell patient and the administrative coordinator for community health and outreach at Carilion Clinic.

Dr. William Fintel M.D., a hematology and oncology specialist at Carilion Clinic has worked with sickle cell patients for many years and says it can cause several health issues, but believes they can live a good life with the right support.

“You realize it-- It’s tough that school gets tough jobs get tough. Keeping friends to keep it a relationship gets tough. So we should all I think, dig into this disease because we-- I hope 10 years from now, people won’t even have a disease because of cures. But in the meantime, these people need a whole community of support,” said Dr. William Fintel, a hematology and oncology specialist at Carilion Clinic.

Research shows in the U.S., sickle cell disease most commonly affects African-Americans but also affects people from Hispanic, southern European, Middle Eastern, and Asian Indian backgrounds.

To read more about sickle cell you can visit sicklecelldisease.org/.

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