In order to educate and inform the campus about the sickle cell trait and the symptoms and forms of treatment that come along with the disease, the Kappa Lambda chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. presented their program “C2 The Crippled Cell” on November 18.
The program began with an ice breaker where students partnered with someone of the opposite sex in order to “make a baby.” The point of this ice breaker was to inform students on how the sickle cell trait is genetically passed on from one generation to the next.
Following the ice breaker, the hosts showed a YouTube video of a young boy who was cured of sickle cell anemia with a bone marrow transplant. The video was entitled the “Amazing Story of Joseph Davis Jr.” In the video the family of Joseph shared their experience of dealing with the disease and explained the process they went through before Joseph received the bone marrow transplant. Joseph was hospitalized through much of his life until he received the bone marrow that was given to him by his younger brother. The family’s mood changed when sharing their experience after the bone marrow transplant. They were delighted that Joseph could now live a normal and happy life like any other child his age. After the video the president of the fraternity, Chris Akpobiyeri, presented a PowerPoint discussing the disease.
Sickle cell anemia is characterized by red blood cells that carry a sickle shape in the form of the letter C. Because of the irregular shape of the cells, they tend to block the blood vessels which can then lead to bouts of pain called a pain crisis. This is different from normal shaped red blood cells that are doughnut shaped and easily flow through blood vessels without causing any harm to the body. Due to their irregular shape, sickle cells do not last long in the body and live for only 10-20 days, but because they are continuously dying the body does not carry the normal amount of red blood cells a healthy body should carry leaving the body with a lower amount of blood cells then actually needed.
There is no real cure to the disease, however, a small amount of people have been cured due to a bone marrow transplant like Joseph. The best type of treatment is a bone marrow transplant; however, people who suffer from the disease should try to stay healthy. Patients can do this by taking vitamins, Penicillin, and a regular routine of folic acid. They should also avoid extreme cold and hot temperatures, get as much rest as possible, and stay out of places that are low in oxygen. Some symptoms that come along with the disease are jaundice, fatigue, pain crisis, slow rate of growth and late puberty. This disease affects many nationalities, but is more common among African-Americans. In order to find out if you have sickle cell anemia or carry the trait you can go to your family doctor and take a blood test. Everyone should get tested when planning on having a baby, especially because 1 out of 12 African-Americans born in the U.S. are carriers of the sickle cell trait.
Stacy Graham, a senior majoring in communication, said, “Many myths that I had about the condition were dissolved. The program provided information that I had never considered; mainly that I could possibly have the recessive trait and that I could pass it on to my kids.”
Scott McGregor, a senior majoring in computer science, said, “From my stand point, I see it as a situation that either a lot of people are in or know somebody that’s in. It’s always good to be knowledgeable of.” This program successfully informed the campus of sickle cell anemia and urged many people to begin thinking about it in a new light.