New hope in sickle cell anemia fight - AmericaNowNews.com

New hope in sickle cell anemia fight

  • New hope in sickle cell anemia fightMore>>

  • Sickle cell affects young athletes

    Sickle cell anemia affects young athletes

    Sickle cell anemia is a very common genetic blood disorder. About 100 children in South Carolina are born with sickle cell anemia every year. Sickle cell is a blood-related disorder where red blood cells
    Sickle cell anemia is a very common genetic blood disorder and can be managed relatively easily. However, for young athletes who push themselves too hard, the trait can be fatal.

8-year-old Quentin and 4-year-old Tatiyanna are both African American and were both born with sickle cell anemia - essentially a dangerous breakdown in the genetic code.

Dr. Ken Cooke says, "That causes red blood cells to lose their shape and they become sickle like crescent moons.  And these sickle cells then have a difficult time getting through, wiggling through small blood cells so they get clogged there."

Tottie, as she's affectionately known, was so sick from sickle complications like lung, kidney and bone pain, she was in and out of the hospital 14 times before she was 3.

As for Quentin, his mother Vincenta says, "He had to get blood transfusions every 30 days because that was a way to prevent him from having a massive stroke."

Well, that was then...this is now. Because little sister Sheila saved him -- a perfect bone marrow donor match for a promising transplant procedure . First, chemotherapy wipes out sickle cells.

Dr. Cooke says, "If you transplant a patient with sickle cell disease with healthy bone marrow cells, the blood stem cells will then make very healthy red cells."

Now, Quentin is sickle cell free.nTottie is on the mend as well, thanks to a donor she and her family didn't even know who donated bone marrow through a procedure Dr. Ken Cooke says is relatively simple. "It's done in the operating room, the donor would be under anesthesia, but then the recovery time is quite short, most adults are back to work in a couple of days and most kids are running around later on in the day of the procedure."

The problem is African Americans are predominantly diagnosed with sickle cell anemia, but there are so few African American's who are actually on the bone marrow registry.

According to Dr. Cooke, "You don't even need to donate blood, just cheek swab to get genetic code from lining of the inside of the mouth."

If you'd like to know more about being a bone marrow donor, check out www.bethematch.com.

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