Sickle Cell Disease

An inherited disorder that affects the hemoglobin in red blood cells

In healthy red blood cells, hemoglobin carries oxygen, creating a smooth, round cell shape. With sickle cell disease, defective hemoglobin causes red blood cells to become stiff, taking on a sickle or crescent shape that blocks blood flow, causing pain and anemia. 

Sickle cell disease (SCD) affects an estimated 100,000 people. It is most common among African-Americans and Hispanics, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Advanced treatment
A blood or marrow transplant is the only known cure for SCD. While not uncommon among children, cell transplants can present significant complications in adults. Patients and their families may decide to pursue transplant depending upon age, the severity of the disease and the extent of organ or bone damage the disease has caused. 

Our expert care team treats severe SCD by transplanting healthy blood-forming cells from a family member, unrelated donor or umbilical cord blood. To prepare for the transplant, the patient receives chemotherapy, with or without radiation, before the new cells are infused into the bloodstream. The new cells travel to the inside of the bones and begin to make healthy red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. 

Patients continue to see their transplant team for checkups for at least the first year after transplant. Our program provides after-transplant care guidelines to help patients prepare for their 100-day, six-month, 12-month and yearly checkups. 

Leading providers 
The University of Kansas Cancer Center is uniquely qualified to support patients with SCD through transplants. One of just 69 National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers in the nation, we offer unparalleled expertise in using blood and marrow transplant to treat both cancerous and noncancerous blood disorders. In our program’s 40-year history, our team has performed more than 3,100 transplant procedures, including the first in the state of Kansas to treat adult SCD.

Clinical trials
As an academic medical center at the forefront of research and discovery, we offer clinical trials that give our patients treatment opportunities not available elsewhere. Each clinical trial has its own set of rules that determines who may take part. Criteria may include your age, gender, type and stage of disease, prior treatment and other medical conditions.

Learn more about SCD clinical trials, 913-945-7552 or email us.

Make an appointment

Call: 913-588-1227
Toll free: 844-323-1227

Referring physicians 

Call: 913-588-5862 
Toll free: 877-588-5862

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Future without Limits
Desiree Ramirez, first adult sickle-cell patient in Kansas to receive a bone marrow transplant.

Desiree Ramirez diagnosed with sickle cell disease as a toddler. She suffered from pain, fatigue and frequent infections.