NEW ORLEANS – The Red Thread Promise has partnered with Tulane Hospital for Children and the Sickle Cell Center of Southern Louisiana (SCCSL) at Tulane to provide free medical care for a 4-year-old Haitian orphan. Christopher was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia as an infant in his home country of Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. He is expected to arrive in New Orleans on March 9 to begin treatment at Tulane.
Young Christopher has lived most of his life in an orphanage in rural Haiti. His condition requires that he take daily medication and make frequent trips for medical care, putting a great toll on the child. The devastation from the 2010 earthquake in Haiti made it more difficult for Christopher to receive the medical treatment he so desperately needs.
“We have been supporting Christopher’s medical care for the majority of his short life, providing for his treatment while in the orphanage,” states Sonya Yencer, Vice President of The Red Thread Promise. “Now that he is in the States with his adoptive family, we are thrilled to continue serving this child with the generous help and support of Tulane Hospital for Children and SCCSL. We couldn’t ask for a better partnership.”
Christopher will soon travel to the New Orleans for a more comprehensive evaluation and medical care at Tulane Hospital for Children and the Sickle Cell Center of Southern Louisiana. Sickle cell anemia affects millions throughout the world. It is an inherited disorder found more commonly among people whose ancestors come from sub-Saharan Africa, South America, Cuba or Central America. New Orleans has a large population of sickle cell patients and some of the most advanced treatments are available at the Sickle Cell Center of Southern Louisiana, which is good news for Christopher.
Sickle cell anemia causes red blood cells, which are usually smooth and donut-shaped, to become stiff and assume a sickle shape. The sickled red cells can have difficulty traveling through small vessels and begin to stack up and cause blockages that deprive tissue and organs of oxygen-carrying blood. These blockages bring about episodes of severe pain and can ultimately damage tissue and vital organs. Currently, the only cure available for sickle cell disease is a bone marrow transplant; however the disease can be managed through proper medical treatment.
“While at Tulane, Christopher will undergo diagnostic testing to determine the level of disease severity,” said Dr. Julie Kanter, Assistant Professor of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology at Tulane, and the primary physician who will oversee Christopher’s medical care. “This will include blood tests, a cardiac exam and neurological testing. Tulane doctors will then recommend a treatment regimen for Christopher based upon the results of his medical tests.”