New center to improve treatment of sickle cell patients - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

New center to improve treatment of sickle cell patients

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By Joe Birch - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A new effort by Baptist, Memorial and St. Francis Hospitals is underway to create a clinic that would cut down wait times and properly treat sickle cell crises 24 hours a day in the Mid-South.

Mark Yancy, Major Gifts Coordinator with Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare, has suffered from sickle cell disease since birth.

"If you ask somebody, a sickle cell patient, what is sickle cell to them, the first thing they would probably tell you is immensely painful," said Yancy. "It's unpredictable. It could strike at any moment."

Jim McGehee's wife Virginia's caretaker, Marrell Aguillard, lost her battle with sickle cell at the age of 37. McGehee is chairman of Comprehensive Sickle Cell Clinic Group.

Sickle cell treatment brought Yancy and McGehee together. They are fighting for sickle cell awareness, and a multi-million dollar clinic that would turn the page on how Mid-South patients get treatment.

Sickle cell is a genetic disease that mainly affect the African American community. It can affect lungs, liver, kidneys and bones, and there is patients never know when a sickle cell crisis will strike.

If a patient is treated within the first two hours of a crisis, they could be discharged by the end of the day. If that patient has to wait longer than two hours, that patient could be hospitalized for days and out of commission for weeks.

In most local cases, the wait in an ER can be four to five hours.

"I took Marrel to the emergency room," said McGehee. "She was trying not to scream for the pain. We sat for four hours plus, and without an aspirin."

McGehee and Yancy hope tragedies like Aguillard's could soon be avoided with the creation of a new comprehensive sickle cell clinic.

The new clinic has a $5 million dollar price tag. Saturday, the Third Annual Mike Conley Bowl-n-Bash will be held to raise money for the clinic. To find out more about the event, click here.

To visit Sickle Cell Memphis, click here.

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