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Beverly Knight Olson Childrens Hospital, Navicent Health Honors Sickle Cell Patients

September is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month

Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olson Children's Hospital (BKO) honors the young patients and families who live with sickle cell anemia during September, National Sickle Cell Awareness Month, by raising awareness of this genetic condition.

Sickle cell anemia is an inherited form of anemia, a condition caused when the body does not produce enough healthy red blood cells to adequately carry oxygen throughout the body. Red blood cells are normally round and flexible, easily moving through the body's blood vessels. For patients with sickle cell anemia, however, red blood cells become rigid, sticky and shaped like crescent moons. The irregular cells may become stuck in small blood vessels, which may slow or block blood flow and oxygen to various parts of the body. The blood cells may also die prematurely within the blood vessels and spleen, causing jaundice, gall stones and injuries to many organs, including the spleen, kidneys, lungs and brain. Symptoms of the condition include anemia, episodes of pain, swollen extremities, frequent infections, lung injuries, delayed growth, vision problems and stroke.

"Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olson Children's Hospital is committed to providing the best care possible for young sickle cell patients. Although there is no easy cure for this disease, we do everything in our power to gain control over the disease by using well known medicines, in addition to providing comfort and ease for these young patients. We are performing new research on novel medicines here at Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olson Children's Hospital, and we are committed to raising awareness of this disease in hopes that one day, very soon, we will be able to offer universal curative treatment," said Vishwas Sakhalkar, MD, pediatric hematologist and oncologist.

To inherit the disease, a child must have two parents who carry the sickle cell gene. In the U.S., sickle cell anemia most commonly affects African Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sickle cell anemia occurs in approximately 1 in 365 African American births.

Treatments provided by facilities such as Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olson Children's Hospital and its HOPE for Kids Clinic can relieve pain and significantly improve outcomes of conditions associated with sickle cell disease and help affected children enjoy a healthier, happier and more productive lives.

About Atrium Health Navicent

Atrium Health Navicent, the leading provider of healthcare in central and south Georgia, is committed to its mission of elevating health and wellbeing through compassionate care. Providing more than 1,000 beds and offering care in 53 specialties at more than 50 facilities throughout the region, Atrium Health Navicent provides care for healthcare consumers' through an academic medical center; community, pediatric and rehabilitation hospitals; urgent care centers; physician practices; diagnostic centers; home health; hospice and palliative care; and a life plan community. Atrium Health Navicent is dedicated to enhancing health and wellness for individuals throughout the region through nationally recognized quality care, community health initiatives and collaborative partnerships. For more information, please visit