September 5, 2023
Events planned for National Sickle Cell Awareness Month
MOBILE, Ala. — September has been designated as National Sickle Cell Awareness Month by Congress to help direct attention to the need for research and treatment of sickle cell disease. During September, MCHD’s Health Equity Office will partner with the Mobile Chapter of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America as they host events to advance these efforts.
WHAT is Sickle Cell Disease (SCD)?
Sickle cell disease is a life-long blood disorder that is inherited from parents the same way individuals get their eye color, skin, and hair. This disease affects the hemoglobin in the red blood cells, which is responsible for transporting oxygen to all parts of the body. Healthy, normal red blood cells are round and smooth, moving through the blood vessels easily. However, individuals with sickle cell disease have hard, sticky, banana-shaped red blood cells that resemble a farm tool called a “sickle.” Sickle cells have difficulty moving through the blood vessels, resulting in clogging of the vessel. When this happens, blood flow is blocked, and the blood cannot deliver enough oxygen to organs in the body. Sickle cells also die early compared to non-sickle cells, causing a constant shortage of red bloods cells in individuals with this disease.
WHO is Affected by Sickle Cell Disease?
SCD is estimated to affect 90,000 to 100,000 people in the United States, mainly African Americans. It occurs in about 1 of every 500 African American births and 1 of every 36,000 Hispanic American births. Getting screened to know your sickle cell status is extremely important at child-bearing age since SCD is passed down to children through their parents’ genes.
HOW is Sickle Cell Disease Treated?
There are different types of sickle cell disease, with some causing less problems than others. Some of the most common complications of SCD are severe pain episodes, serious infections, eye disease, organ damage, and stroke. To date, the only cure for SCD is a bone marrow or stem cell transplant, which is very risky and can have serious side effects. Treatment differs for different people depending on symptoms, and there is no single best treatment for all people with SCD. Treatment may include receiving blood transfusions, IV therapy, or medications to help with pain. Individuals with sickle cell disease can live full lives provided they learn healthy lifestyle habits, follow precautions, and seek regular checkups and treatment.
One way we all can contribute to this cause is to donate blood at local community blood drives.
Some of the events Sickle Cell Disease Association of America – Mobile Chapter has planned to highlight SCD this month are:
- Get Up and Move: Sickle Cell Disease & Exercise – Thursday, September 7, at 5:30 p.m., Mobile Women’s Federation Club, 400 N Catherine Street
- Alpha Phi Alpha Blood Drive – Saturday, September 9, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Franklin Primary Care Medical Mall, 1303 Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard
- 2023 Strike for Sickle Cell Bowling Fundraiser – Thursday, September 14, at 6 p.m., AMF Camellia Lanes, 125 North Schillinger Road