St. Jude receives $1M grant to battle sickle cell anemia

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - St. Jude Children's Research Hospital has received a $1 million grant to help fight sickle-cell disease.

One out of every 365 African-American babies born in this country has the disease.

Finding a cure for sickle cell anemia has been at the heart of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital since it opened in 1962.

St. Jude is the first hospital to cure a sickle cell patient through a bone marrow transplant.

The million-dollar donation advances the research for a disease that leaves many silently in pain.

"It's more of an invisible disease that we can't see because it affects every organ," said Yvonne Caroll, Director of Patient Services in Hematology.

The disease turns red blood cells, typically round and flexible, rigid and sticky. Patients diagnosed with the disease often only live to be 40-60 years old.

"We know that the first cure for sickle cell anemia happened right here at St. Jude's hospital," said Glenda Newell-Harris, President of Links Incorporated. "So we are very excited about being able to continue that research, so we can continue to have an even better cure so our patients will live even longer."

Part of The Links Foundation donation will fund the creation of an app educating patients around the world about the disease and develop a community health worker education program to counsel parents of infants with sickle-cell disease in Nigeria.

"This grant will help establish newborn screening programs and it will also help educate them and people around the world about sickle cell disease," Carroll said.

With five labs inside St. Jude Children's Research Hospital devoted to finding a cure for sickle cell disease, the donation puts researchers one step closer to that mission.

James Downing, President and CEO of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, made a promise to use this donation to change the outcome of sickle cell patients.

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