Life is never the same for a child diagnosed with sickle cell disease. They must learn the strategies necessary to live a normal live with an uncommon condition. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute estimates between 90,000 – 100,000 Americans are living with sickle cell.
“I was afraid, considering I didn’t know much about Sickle Cell at that time,” said Steffany Fallen, whose daughter, De’Miya Lamb, was diagnosed with the disease around six weeks of age. “I thought my only daughter wouldn’t be able to fully enjoy a good quality of life. I was unsure if her life would be cut short due to her illness.”
September is the perfect time to educate yourself about the disease because it is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month. Sickle cell disease causes a person’s red blood cells to take on a “sickle” shape causing them to stick to the walls of blood vessels creating a blockage that can slow or stop the flow of blood. The lack of blood flow can create sudden, severe pain in the area of the body where the blockage occurs.
Augusta University offers Lamb and other patients like her treatments they will not find at any other hospital in the CSRA. The Sickle Cell Center first opened in 1972. It has been recognized by the international community for its research into new treatment options for those living with sickle cell.
“The doctors and staff at the Sickle Cell Center at Augusta University were extremely helpful. They took the time to educate me about my daughter’s diagnosis,” Fallen said.
One of those treatments is the Got Transition model developed by The National Alliance to Advance Adolescent Health. The Georgia Cancer Center is the only hospital in the CSRA offering this program. It consists of six core elements taking a team-based approach to educating a patient about what they need to know and how their family can help manage the disease.
“The Sickle Cell Center provides children like De’Miya with opportunities to engage in various activities that help build their confidence and empower them to battle Sickle Cell with all their might,” Fallen said.