LITTLE ROCK – Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is the most common genetic disease worldwide and is estimated to affect more than 1,000 people throughout Arkansas, according to a news release.


The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) recognized June 19 as World Sickle Cell Day and encourages Arkansans to consider blood donation to support those living with SCD.


Every baby born in a hospital in the United States is tested for SCD. ADH administers the newborn screening program in Arkansas. SCD is most common among African Americans. It can cause severe episodes of pain, anemia requiring blood transfusions, and frequent hospitalizations due to effects on other organs. Though there is no cure, treatments and support services are available for those in Arkansas living with SCD.


“A significant way to support those with Sickle Cell Disease in Arkansas is to donate blood,” said Dr. Appathurai Balamurugan, the ADH State Chronic Disease Director. Balamurugan is also medical director for the Chronic Disease Prevention and Control Branch and Assistant Professor of Family and Preventative Medicine in the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).


“Those with SCD must receive frequent blood transfusions. Having a diverse supply of blood types is crucial for these patients.”


Some of the resources for individuals with SCD include:


Arkansas Children’s Hospital Sickle Cell clinic: provides comprehensive care to children with sickle cell disease ages birth through 21 years of age.


UAMS Adult Sickle Cell Multidisciplinary Clinic: continues lifelong care after transitioning to adulthood, including an outpatient infusion center which helps patients avoid lengthy emergency room visits and hospital stays.


Arkansas Minority Health Commission: supports the work of UAMS in the community.


Sickle Cell Support Services: raises funds to provide an adult sickle cell support group and a children’s summer camp.


Contact the Arkansas Blood Institute http://arkbi.org/blood-donation/ to find a local blood drive or schedule a time to donate. To find out more about SCD, visit https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/sicklecell/.