published Friday, June 15th, 2012

Sickle Cell Awareness Carnival is Saturday at Coolidge Park

IF YOU GO

What: Sickle Cell Awareness Carnival.

When: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Coolidge Park, 150 River St.

Admission: Free.

Organizers of a Sickle Cell Awareness Carnival on Saturday say their efforts are on behalf of an underserved population.

Particularly, they are sickle cell clients "who recently have transitioned from pediatric care to adulthood," said Philip Thomas, marketing chair for the Scenic City Sickle Cell Corp., in a news release.

The Scenic City Sickle Cell Corp. is a community-based organization being formed to increase the awareness of sickle cell disease and to develop a system of transitional care services, he said.

Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder that most commonly affects African-Americans and is being seen with increased frequency in Latino Americans, particularly those of Caribbean, Central American and South American ancestry, according to Thomas.

Saturday's carnival, scheduled 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Coolidge Park, is co-sponsored by the corporation, Blood Assurance and Brewer Media. The event will include a variety of family-friendly activities as well as information on sickle cell disease. Attendees are encouraged to sign up for the Bone Marrow Registry, which involves a cheek swab, and to donate blood.

Both blood transfusions and bone marrow transplants can figure into the health of sickle cell patients, Thomas said.

"Sickle cell clients who experience stroke are committed to blood transfusions on a monthly basis for life," he explained. "Donating blood is essential for the continuing of care for these clients."

A bone marrow transplant can provide a life-saving opportunity for a child living with sickle cell or anyone suffering from other illnesses like leukemia and lymphoma, Thomas said. However, many minorities are unable to find marrow donors.

"Right now, the chance of finding a match on the Be The Match Registry is close to 93 percent for Caucasians, but for African-Americans and other minorities, the chances can be as low as 66 percent," he said. "The tissue types used for matching patients with donors are inherited, so patients are most likely to find a match within their own racial or ethnic heritage. There are 9 million people on the Be The Match Registry, but only 7 percent are African-American."

Those who cannot attend the carnival are urged to register for the Be The Match Registry by calling the local office at 752-5951.

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