Did you know that St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® discovered the only known cure for sickle cell disease? In 1983, St. Jude patient Kimberlin Wilson-George made medical history by becoming the first sickle cell disease patient in the world to be cured with a bone marrow transplant.

Thirty-five years later, St. Jude continues to play a major role in treating patients with the disease and is channeling their efforts to search for a cure.

Sickle cell disease is an inherited disorder that results in red blood cells becoming hard and sickle-shaped. The shape of the cells prevent normal blood flow in the body, which can cause painful and sometimes life-threatening side effects. 

About 100,000 people in the U.S. have sickle cell disease. It is most commonly found in African-Americans and Hispanics, and about one out of 365 African-American babies that are born has the disease.

In honor of World Sickle Cell Day, St. Jude is continuing to make a commitment to treat and cure children and teens. Every one in 10 St. Jude patients is a sickle cell disease patient, and the hospital treats more than 850 children from birth through age 18.

From their first research grant in 1958 to pioneering the use of hydroxyurea in pediatric sickle cell disease patients, St. Jude has been committed to researching treatments for the disease. Today, they’re building on that legacy by expanding their sickle cell program from treating the disease to finding cures.

The hospital is currently developing a bone marrow transplantation program to improve outcomes for children with sickle cell disease by creating new clinical trials and identifying ways to decrease transplant-related side effects. Researchers are also exploring gene editing as a possible solution to a cure for the disease.

In addition to these projects, St. Jude launched a long-term study called the Sickle Cell Clinical Research and Intervention Program which will improve understanding of how sickle cell progresses and provide health screenings for patients. The St. Jude-Methodist Sickle Cell Disease Transition Clinic, located in Memphis, has the potential to become a national model for programs encouraging teens with sickle cell disease to continue their treatment as adults.

To find out how you can help St. Jude find a cure for sickle cell disease and their involvement with World Sickle Cell Day, check out their website at https://www.stjude.org/sicklecellawareness.

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