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Contact(s):Melinda Mitchell

Friday, September 28, 2007


(Friday, September 28, 2007) Commonly thought to only appear in African Americans, sickle cell disorders can actually be found in all races. This point was one of many made at the City of Little Rock’s Sickle Cell Awareness Day.

Sickle cell anemia, a chronic, life-threatening condition, occurs when the red blood cells, normally disc-shaped, become crescent shaped. The abnormality creates small blood clots, which cause recurring painful episodes called sickle cell pain crises. It can also result in organ failure.

The event, at Little Rock City Hall, was organized by City Hall nurse Melinda Mitchell and Tasha Smith, who works in the City’s Housing and Neighborhood Programs Department. Smith has a son with sickle cell anemia. Smith spoke at the event about the challenges of living with sickle cell anemia.

Joining the City in sponsoring the event the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine Department of Pediatrics, The Sickle Cell Support Group, the Minority Health Commission, and CIGNA Health Insurance.

Following the press briefing, an hour long education seminar was held that included free testing.

Speakers for the day included Ruby Brown- Project Director, Living Well with Sickle Cell; David Deere- Director for Partners for Inclusive Communities, a department of Pediatrics of UAMS; and Germaine Johnson-Director for Sickle Support Services

Sickle Cell Disease is a group of inherited red blood disorders. If a child inherits one sickle cell gene, the child is said to have sickle cell trait. If the child inherits two sickle cell genes, the child has sickle cell disease. There are three common types of sickle cell disease in the United States: Hemoglobin SS or sickle cell anemia, Hemoglobin SC disease, and Hemoglobin sickle beta-thalassemia.

A simple blood test called hemoglobin electrophoresis can be administered to determine if a person is a carrier of the sickle cell trait or has sickle cell disease.


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