MEMPHIS, Tenn., June 19, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, June 19th, is World Sickle Cell Day and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital will join organizations around the globe in helping raise awareness for this life-threatening disease, an inherited blood disorder affecting red blood cells that can cause anemia, pain, and organ damage.
Although sickle cell disease can affect people of all races, it is most common among people of African, Hispanic, Mediterranean and Native American descent. About 1 in every 365 African-American children is born with sickle cell disease.
For parents of children with sickle cell disease, like Chris and Nichole Bridges, World Sickle Cell Day and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital's commitment means renewed hope for a cure, and a better life in the meantime. Two of their three daughters have the disorder and are patients at St. Jude. Chris has dedicated his life to finding a cure as a lab technician at St. Jude.
The Bridges girls, Khirsten and Kaitlyn, take medication daily, and when pain crises arise, they are hospitalized and receive blood transfusions. Things that might seem like an afterthought for most, like staying hydrated and getting enough sleep, are also critical tools for staying on top of the disease and preventing pain crises.
As much as St. Jude is doing to advance cures and treatment for sickle cell disease, Nichole and Chris have to prepare their girls for the day when they will leave the hospital's care, and they are starting early. For Nichole, that means arming her daughters with medical terminology and teaching them to advocate for themselves.
"What we try to instill in our daughters every day is, 'You know, I can have sickle cell and I can overcome. Even through the pain I can make it through this and make it just one more day,'" Nichole explains. "But ultimately we are praying for a cure."
To learn more about the Bridges family and their story coping with sickle cell disease, watch this video.
Today, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is leading the Sickle Cell Clinical Research and Intervention Program (SCCRIP), which studies how sickle cell disease progresses over time, from childhood into adulthood, and how to improve the quality of life for sickle cell disease patients while continuing to search for cures.
"From our first sickle cell disease research grant in 1958, St. Jude has been committed to researching, understanding and improving standards of care for this disease," said James R. Downing, M.D., president and chief executive officer of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. "In recent years, we developed a nationally recognized program to help teenagers with sickle cell disease learn how to continue managing their disease as they mature to help ensure they receive top-quality care during the transition to adult care providers."
"It's a privilege for us to play a role in World Sickle Cell Day and help raise awareness for this life-threatening disease," said Richard Shadyac Jr., President and CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. "Thank you to all of our generous donors and supporters who help ensure that families never receive a bill for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all they should worry about is helping their child live. We won't stop until no child suffers from this terrible disease."
To learn more about World Sickle Cell Day, go to www.stjude.org/sicklecellawareness.
About St. Jude Children's Research Hospital®
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Its purpose is clear: Finding cures. Saving children.® It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to more than 80 percent since the hospital opened more than 50 years ago. St. Jude won't stop until no child dies from cancer. St. Jude freely shares the discoveries it makes, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food – because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. Join the St. Jude mission by visiting stjude.org, liking St. Jude on Facebook (facebook.com/stjude), following St. Jude on Twitter (@stjude) and subscribing to its YouTube channel (youtube.com/user/MyStJude).
SOURCE St. Jude Children's Research Hospital