What’s TRUE About Sickle Cell?

American Rapper Albert Johnson, better known as Prodigy, passed away June 20, 2017 in Las Vegas, NV. In an interview with Vibe magazine in 2000, it was then revealed that Prodigy had a lifelong battle with Sickle Cell Disease(SCD). His song “ You Can Never Feel My Pain” is a tribute to the suffering he went through while having this condition. His causes of death, however, is unclear and still to be determined.

SCD affects a protein in red blood cells called hemoglobin. The Hemoglobin helps to carry oxygen throughout the body. Red blood cells with normal hemoglobin move easily through the bloodstream because of their rounded shape and greater flexibility. Blood cells that are affected by sickle cells, have a crescent like shape causing the cells to block the bloodstream. People that suffer from SCD may experience a number symptoms, such as joint pain, sudden chest pain, dizziness, fatigue, inability to dilute urine (or have blood in urine), shortness of breath, and/ or yellow skin and eyes. There are no quick fixes to take away the pain that the sickle cell disease creates. One has to learn how to live with it for the rest of their life, such as Prodigy.

There are treatments that are being developed that can help one cope with the daily struggles that come with this disease. According to pfizer.com, Pfizer researchers are partnering to develop a potential therapy that would address the vaso-occlusive crises It is currently in a Phase III clinical testing. Hydroxyurea is a medication that was approved by the FDA in 1998 in order to treat SCD. Like Pfizer, The FDA encourages new treatments for SCD by continuing to work with stakeholders. This disease is very rare, since the most way people obtain it is through herediation, mainly occurring in the African American community. One in 12 African Americans carry the sickle cell trait, originating from Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, South America, Caribbean Islands, and India. This disease is diagnosed through a blood test, which is what newborns are screened for.

Although there is no wide cure for this disease at the moment. Stem cell treatment can cure the disease for some patients that are typically young with a severe case of the SCD, while gene therapy holds potential for the future.

There are certain things many of us can do to help one avoid the complications of the sickle cell disease. Simple things such as drinking lots of water, taking folic acid supplements daily, having a healthy diet, avoiding extreme temperatures, exercising regularly, and using OTC medicine with caution, can help you in the long run with sickle cell and other health complications and diseases.

The William E. Proudford Sickle Cell Fund Incorporation has its’ annual fundraiser, Rockin’ the Red, for its 12th year in arow. It continues to help spread aware of this disease and raise money to support the research to find a cure. It is held on September 23th from 6:00- 9:00pm.

Take a look at their website to become informed on the sickle cell disease, how to donate, and on their upcoming events ( http://wepsicklecell.org/ ). To learn more about Sicle Cell diease and the developements taking place to cure it, check out FDA.com and Pfizer.com:

https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm418232.htm http://www.pfizer.com/health-wellness/disease-conditions/rare-diseases/sic kle-cell-dis ease

Charlotte Seay

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