Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital, Navicent Health Honors Sickle Cell Patients

Staff Report From Middle Georgia CEO

Friday, September 8th, 2017

Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital, Navicent Health will honor young patients and families who live with sickle cell anemia during September, National Sickle Cell Awareness Month, by raising awareness of this genetic condition.
Sickle cell anemia is an inherited form of anemia, a condition caused when the body does not produce enough healthy red blood cells to adequately carry oxygen throughout the body. Red blood cells are normally round and flexible, easily moving through the body’s blood vessels. For patients with sickle cell anemia, however, red blood cells become rigid, sticky and shaped like crescent moons. The irregular cells may become stuck in small blood vessels, which may slow or block blood flow and oxygen to various parts of the body. The blood cells may also die prematurely within the blood vessels and spleen, causing jaundice, gall stones and injuries to many organs, including the spleen, kidneys, lungs and brain. Symptoms of the condition include anemia, episodes of pain, swollen extremities, frequent infections, lung injuries, delayed growth, vision problems and stroke.
“Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital, Navicent Health is committed to providing the best care possible for young sickle cell patients. Although there is no easy cure for this disease, we do everything in our power to gain control over the disease by using well known medicines, in addition to providing comfort and ease for these young patients. We are performing new research on novel medicines here at Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital, and we are committed to raising awareness of this disease in hopes that one day, very soon, we will be able to offer universal curative treatment,” said Dr. Vishwas Sakhalkar, pediatric hematologist and oncologist with Navicent Health.
To inherit the disease, a child must have two parents who carry the sickle cell gene. In the U.S., sickle cell anemia most commonly affects African-Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sickle cell anemia occurs in approximately 1 in 365 African-American births.
Treatments provided by facilities such as Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital, Navicent Health can relieve pain and significantly improve outcomes of conditions associated with sickle cell disease and help affected children enjoy a healthier, happier and more productive lives.