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Did you know September is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month? The return of the Fall season can bring seasonal pain to people affected by the disease. To talk about everything from blood transfusions to tips for people and more, the Executive Medical Officer for the American Red Cross, Dr. Yvette Marie Miller stops by the Get Up Church.
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ERICA: So can you briefly explain how and why Sickle Cell disproportionately affects the black community?
DR. MILLER: Sickle cell affects about 100,000 individuals in the U.S. And s Sickle Cell disease is basically a disease of geography. People that are from whose ancestors are from countries where Malaria’s endemic, have a higher incidence of having Sickle Cell disease.
ERICA: How does one contract sickle cell disease? And is it preventable?
DR. MILLER: Sickle Cell disease is a genetic disease that is inherited from one’s parents. Each parent has a sickle cell gene. And every time these parents have a child, there’s a 25% chance that that child will have sickle cell disease, so it is inherited from one’s parents.
ERICA: Let’s talk about the need for blood transfusions and blood donors. The Sickle Cell initiative that the American Red Cross is implementing.
DR. MILLER: So Sickle Cell disease primarily affects the red blood cells. Normal red blood cells are soft and round. But the condition the red blood cells are d or d, and they clump together and blocked blood vessels, preventing the tissues from getting oxygen, and that causes the two primary manifestations of Sickle Cell disease, which is pain crisis and anemia.
ERICA: We’re talking to Dr. Yvette Marie Miller, the executive medical officer for the American Red Cross donor, where can people go for more information?
DR. MILLER: Well, again, blood donation is essential for these patients with Sickle Cell disease because their red blood cells are abnormal. So anyone can donate blood, you can call 1-800-Red-Cross and make an appointment, or go to RedCrossblood.org and make an appointment as well.
GRIFF: Dr. Miller, I just want to know like some tips for people with Sickle Cell. Is there something they can eat? Is there exercise they can do? Is it because I know it is they go through excruciating pain? I have a couple of friends with it. And when it happens, it’s not a lot they can do.
DR. MILLER: Well, yes, that’s an important part of the work that we’re doing with the Red Cross in terms of blood donation. It can help patients take care of themselves. Now in terms of treatment, they can keep themselves warm, because when the weather changes, they can have additional symptoms related to their condition. This particular campaign initiative that we have “Joined By Blood” is to support the community in coming to donate blood and help patients with Sickle Cell disease.
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