The Cultural and Clinical Challenges of Sickle Cell with Ifeyinwa “Ify” Osunkwo, MD

Feb 09, 2022, 10:34 PM

Though sickle cell disease had been present in Africa for over 5000 years, it was first “discovered” in 1910 when a dental student named Walter Clement Noel became the first patient to be formally diagnosed. From there, more would be uncovered about the disease in the decades following his diagnosis, such as how it disproportionately affects patients of African descent.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in every 13 Black infants in the US are born with the trait for sickle cell disease. Additionally, diagnosis and screening for sickle cell are still lacking in lesser-resourced regions of Africa and the US alike.

Ifeyinwa “Ify” Osunkwo, MD, director of Sickle Cell Disease Enterprise at the Levine Cancer Institute and Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at Atrium Health, spoke of advancements in the field of sickle cell disease including chronic disease-managing therapies, and how physicians unfamiliar with the disease could collaborate with hematologists to provide the best care for those affected by sickle cell.