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Mississippi Kids With Sickle Cell Attend Special Camp

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 23 Jun 2011 04:31pm | comments
13-year old Tremayne gets ready to go to camp.

Every year roughly 50 African American children in Mississippi will be born with the painful and debilitating genetic blood disorder sickle cell. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports on a unique summer camp for kids living with the disease and options for a cure.

A bus load of kids joyfully prepare to head to a summer camp in Holmes County.

The children are all living with the blood disorder sickle cell...which alters the shape of red blood cells and can be painful and cause a life time of health problems.

For 13-year old Tremayne, who has sickle cell, it is a chance to enjoy his summer.

"I finally came the year before last and I said I am going to keep coming back every year because it is fun. (I will) go fishing, dance and swim and all that," Tremayne said.

Mississippi Sickle Cell Foundation board member Arleen Anderson says the camp designs activities that suit the kid's disorder as well as educates them about their disease.

"It is very excruciating and when they are in pain like that it is difficult to go to school on a regular basis. It is difficult to go on vacation with mommy and daddy. And it impacts the families because it interrupts their lives," Anderson said.

About 50 Mississippi babies are found to have the disorder each year.

For a small percentage, a bone marrow transplant from a matched sibling can cure it...but for most of the children treatment is the only option.

University of Mississippi Medical Center Doctor Rathi Iyer says doctors are starting to prescribe an anti-cancer drug called hydroxyurea to some sickle cell children.

"It has been shown very well in the adults, over a long period of time, that it does help. It reduces pain crisis by 50%, it reduce hospitalization. It reduces the need for transfusion, because transfusion is one of the modality of treatment when a patient has serious complications," Iyer said.

Iyer also thinks that gene therapy treatments...now in the experimental phase....show strong promise for curing the genetic problem that causes sickle cell.

 

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13-year old Tremayne gets ready to go to camp.


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