by Linda Straker
The Sickle Cell Association of Grenada is observing September as Sickle Cell Awareness month, as part of efforts to provide the public with a better understanding about the disease, which affects the red blood cells.
According to the Association, there are many myths and misconceptions about Sickle Cell Disease. “This lack of accurate information creates additional hardship for those with SCD, and prevents people from being able to make informed decisions about their health and wellbeing, and that of their loved ones,” said spokesperson for the Association, Sue Brathwaite.
Sharing some facts about the disease, Brathwaite said that the Sickle Cell Disease is inherited from parents as this is the only way a person can get SCD.
“It affects red blood cells, changing their shape and reducing their ability to carry oxygen to parts of the body. Affected red blood cells resemble a sickle (a c-shaped farming tool), and clump together creating blockages, swelling and severe pain. This can cause permanent damage to the organs of the body,” she said, while explaining that proper care and medication, from a very early stage can help to keep those with SCD as healthy as possible.
Recalling the reaction from a parent after learning simple basic facts about the disease, Brathwaite quote a parent as saying: “I wish I’d known about this so I could’ve got help for my child sooner!”
The disease develops when 2 persons without knowing that they are carriers of the sickle cell trait, become parents to a child. “The ‘carrier state’ for the disease means that those with SCT are not usually affected, in fact many with SCT are unaware that they have SCT. Two adults with SCT can have a child with SCD. There is a 1 in 4 chance of this for each pregnancy. They may also have a child with SCT (a 1 in 2 chance) or a child with no symptoms (a 1 in 4 chance),” she said, while explaining that the disease is diagnosed through a simple blood test at a medical lab.
The main activity during the month will be the showing of “The Family Legacy” — a documentary about the disease, on Friday, 11 September from 6:30 pm at the Association’s office on Kirani James Blvd. The documentary dramatizes one family’s emotional journey, when a baby is born with SCD.
For further information contact Sickle Cell Association of Grenada (SCAG) at (473) 458-6399 or [email protected].