Sickle Cell Disease

Rich Reaches Out confronts racism as a public health crisis through policy reform, direct action, education, and advocacy, prioritizing systemic health inequities, child welfare, prostate cancer, uterine health, and sickle cell disease.

Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is hard to cure and heavily impacts the Black community. We have seen the complications of SCD plague and take the lives of our loved ones.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

SCD affects approximately 100,000 Americans. SCD occurs among about 1 out of every 365 African-American births. SCD occurs among about 1 out of every 16,300 Hispanic-American births. About 1 in 13 African-American babies is born with sickle cell trait (SCT). SCD is a genetic condition that is present at birth. It is inherited when a child receives two sickle cell genes—one from each parent. People with SCD start to have signs of the disease during the first year of life, usually around five months of age. Symptoms and complications of SCD are different for each person and can range from mild to severe.

Healthy red blood cells are round, and they move through small blood vessels to carry oxygen to all parts of the body. In someone with SCD, the red blood cells become hard and sticky and look like a C-shaped farm tool called a “sickle.” The sickle cells die early, which causes a constant shortage of red blood cells. Also, when they travel through small blood vessels, they get stuck and clog the blood flow. This can cause pain and other serious problems such as infection, acute chest syndrome, and stroke.

There is no single best treatment for all people with SCD. Treatment options are different for each person, depending on the symptoms. The only cure for SCD is bone marrow or stem cell transplant. Bone marrow or stem cell transplants are very risky and can have serious side effects, including death. For the transplant to work, the bone marrow must be a close match. Usually, the best donor is a brother or sister. Bone marrow or stem cell transplants are used only in cases of severe SCD for children who have minimal organ damage from the disease.

The risk of death and complications from health concerns are increased in historically marginalized communities due to health system disparities; therefore, the efforts of Rich Reaches Out are dedicated to standing in the gap, supporting the most vulnerable, and creating a world that protects and serves all people effectively and efficiently.

Rich Reaches Out utilizes a targeted solution model of call-outs and call-ins because, in addition to external harms targeting Black people, generations of oppression, colonialism, and white socialism have conditioned Black people and other people of color to prioritize survival over their health, thereby enabling and contributing to the perpetuation of harm. Therefore, to move our world toward equity, RRO focuses on deconstructing harmful and abusive systems that do not center holistic human interests or support the well-being of all people while building equitable systems that actively and holistically support all people and directly heal people, socioeconomically and physically–mind, body, and soul.