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By Clifton R Kirkman II
Telegram Reporter 

September is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month, Bringing Attention and Focus to Research and Treatment

 

September 10, 2020

September is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month. In 1983, Congress designated the month of September to help bring attention and focus to Sickle Cell research and treatment. The theme for this year's celebration is Sickle Cell Matters. Across the country, the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America and its local chapters will host various events including fundraisers, blood drives, walks and virtual programs to bring awareness to the community.

Now you may ask the question what exactly is Sickle Cell Disease or Sickle Cell Anemia. Sickle Cell Disease; it is an inherited blood disorder that causes the red blood cells to take a sickle shape, which resembles that of a crescent moon. Those red blood cells, can prevent blood from reaching various parts of the body. Anemia, jaundice, gallstones, strokes, organ damage and even premature death can be experienced by those affected with the illness. The most common experience that people who have Sickle Cell Anemia share, is chronic pain. It is known as pain episodes or sickle crisis and for many, it is an excruciating pain that feels sharp and pointy or like daggers piercing throughout the body.

Sickle Cell Warrior, Maurice Dortch, 38, says living with the illness can be discouraging at times. As an advocate and member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., he spends his time spreading awareness about Sickle Cell Disease.. Maurice says, "You see everybody's disability is not measured by them being in a wheelchair, sometimes people look completely normal on the outside and be physically sick on the inside." The sickle cell warrior, lives every day by the model, "When doctors said, I can't, I said I can".

Sickle cell disease has existed for thousands of years and there are millions of people around the world who live with it each day. A non-contagious disease, those who have it are born with the illness. It is more common in people who have more melanin to have the disease such as those who are of African, Mediterranean, Indian and Spanish descent. According to https://www.scdaami.org/sickle-cell-disease, in the United States, 1 in every 365 African American babies are born with Sickle Cell Anemia each year. There are other mutations of sickle cell including Hemoglobin SC disease and hemoglobin Sβ (Sickle Beta) thalassemia, are the two most common.

On September 19th, the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America-Michigan Chapter in Detroit, will celebrate with a Sickle Cell Matters Virtual Walk due to COVID-19. The local theme "Join where you are and move how you choose", allows individuals to participate from anywhere of their choosing. Starting at 10am, there will be a virtual program held on their Facebook page @sicklecellmichigan. The program will consist of remarks, a tribute to fallen warriors, an awards presentation and a salute to Legacy warriors. This year honorary co-chairs are Dr. Deborah Smith-Pollard of WMXD Mix 92.3 and professor at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and Dr. Ahmar Zaidi, Pediatric Oncologist/Hematologist of Children's Hospital of Michigan.

Dr. Zaidi, says "Sickle Cell Disease is a forgotten and ignored disease, even though it affects 100,000 Americans who are mostly in the black community. We cannot talk about racism and prejudice without talking about Sickle Cell Disease. This is why we walk, to generate awareness around a biopsychosocial disease that everyone chooses to ignore."

To participate, you can register to be a sponsor, donate, start a team and fundraise or become a vendor. For more information, contact SCDAA-MI at 313-864-4406 or visit http://www.scdaami.org/2020walk.

"Join where you are and move how you choose".

 

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