NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– Nearly 2,000 people here in Connecticut have Sickle Cell disease, a genetic blood cell disorder that can result in periods of debilitating pain. But a local group is working hard to educate people about Sickle Cell and helping to raise money for further research.
As a board member for the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Southern Connecticut, Katrina Rice has made it a priority in her life to educate people about the disease.
“We’re out there in the community trying to educate people about Sickle Cell and just be overall support to those,” said Rice.
Katrina ‘knows-well’ of what she speaks. Not only is she a board member, but she is also the mother of a teenager with Sickle Cell so she has seen the excruciating pain the disease can cause first hand.
“The pain is like your worst tooth ache, but its constant. It’s three times worse than you have a tooth ache and again it can be in different parts of the body, but it’s very painful thing to go through and the duration may be from a couple of hours to weeks or more,” said Rice.
Through public service announcements and visits to area churches, schools and community groups are trying to change a common misconception that only blacks suffer with Sickle Cell.
“But it’s not just an African American disease, it effects all races as well, that’s why we need to educate everyone and get away from the misconception that is is an African American disease,” said Rice.
According to Rice, a Sickle Cell episode can be brought on by something as sublime as a lack of hydration or an unhealthy diet. The mission of Rice and other board members is to provide things like education, counseling and support for Sickle Cell patients.
“A part of that is raising funds to actually help provide continuing education so we can go out we can have staff who are going to educate our community on what Sickle Cell is, and actually be a voice at public meetings and medical conferences so we can speak to people about what is needed in the field and let them hear directly from folks like myself as a parent, and help get funds navigated to that area, so we can get research and treatment of it,” said Rice.
An organization on a mission to reduce the suffering and raise money for further medical advancements to treat Sickle Cell.
And the Southern Connecticut Association of Sickle Cell will hold its annual fundraising walk on September 20th at East Rock park in New Haven.