Sickle Cell Disease
Sickle cell disease is a genetic disorder affecting the red blood cells. Although it originated in Africa, the sickle cell trait exists worldwide. In the United States, an estimated 70,000 people live with sickle cell disease, with about 1,000 babies born with the disease each year.
La Rabida’s sickle cell team works closely with the State of Illinois Newborn Screening Program and is one of the state’s main referral centers for babies diagnosed with sickle cell disease.
Acute pain is a symptom of this chronic illness. Normally, red blood cells are round or disc-shaped and pass easily through blood vessels. In sickle cell disease, however, the blood cells change shape and can get caught in smaller blood vessels, blocking circulation and preventing the delivery of oxygen to parts of the body. Sickle cell disease gets its name from the crescent or sickle shape of the red blood cell. Patients with sickle cell disease may tire easily or experience mild to moderate to severe pain episodes.
Managing Care to Reduce Risks
Medical management of sickle cell disease is one La Rabida’s specialities. Untreated, sickle cell disease can damage the lungs, spleen, liver and kidneys. There are different types of sickle cell disease, with commonly known types being sickle cell anemia, sickle-hemoglobin C disease and sickle thalassemia. Our goal is to minimize risks and maximize the child’s potential for a rewarding future.
Children with sickle cell disease have special needs that require treatment and support from a multidisciplinary team. Upon diagnosis, a hematologist and nurse specialist create an individualized treatment plan for the sickle cell patient that includes disease management strategies, genetic counseling, parent and family education and, where needed, the services of a social worker and psychologist.
Patients receive comprehensive, family-oriented care on either an inpatient or outpatient basis.