PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — September is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month, and Rhode Island’s top hospital group is reminding everyone of its unique treatment center for those suffering from the disease.
Dr. John Reagan, director of hematology at Lifespan, tells 12 News approximately 100 Rhode Islanders suffer from sickle cell disease, which is an inherited red blood cell disorder that can cause debilitating pain and lifelong health complications.
“Symptoms really start at five-to-six months and last their whole lives,” he explained. “Unfortunately, people do have shortened survival, so the median age for those who have the more severe form is about 30-to-40 years old.”
Reagan said roughly 100,000 Americans suffer from sickle cell disease, and although it can affect people of any race, it’s diagnosed more often in African Americans.
“About 1 in 13 African American births will have sickle cell traits,” he said.
In an effort to help those suffering from the disease, Lifespan combined the services of three of its medical centers to create the Sickle Cell Multidisciplinary Clinic.
“There are sickle cell clinics throughout the country, but most of those are based out of pediatrics,” he said.
What’s groundbreaking about Lifespan’s clinic, Reagan said, is that it combines all of the support and treatment a patient needs in one place.
“For me, I see a primary care doctor, and it’s sometimes hard enough with my schedule to see one, let alone two-to-three specialists on top of that,” Regan explained.
Currently, the only cure for sickle cell disease involves a bone marrow or stem cell transplant, both of which come with their own risks.
Anyone interested in visiting the clinic can learn more about it online.