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September 30, 2002


Emory Physicians Contribute to New Book on Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle cell disease is one of the most common genetic disorders in the United States, affecting more than 70,000 people, including one out of 400 African Americans, with symptoms that include periodic pain episodes, stroke, increased infections, yellowing of the skin and eyes, and other complications requiring emergency medical intervention. And while few treatments are available for individuals with sickle cell, many with the disease who receive good health care lead productive lives and live into their mid-forties and beyond.

Despite these facts, many affected by sickle cell disease – either personally or through their children – are not aware of their full range of options in coping with the disease. A new book, "Hope and Destiny: A Patient's and Parent's Guide to Sickle Cell Disease and Sickle Cell Trait," (Hilton Publishing) hopes to enhance readers' knowledge about the disease. The book, due to be released in early October, is co-authored by Allan Platt, PA-C, physician assistant and program coordinator at the Georgia Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center at Grady Memorial Hospital and clinical instructor at the Emory University School of Medicine's Physician Assistant Program. It includes contributing medical information from Emory physicians Drs. James Eckman, Lewis Hsu and Melanie Jacob, all of whom work at the Sickle Cell Center.

"Hope and Destiny" is co-authored by New York physician Alan Sacerdote, M.D., and informs readers of the complex causes of sickle cell disease; the most current treatment options; what genetic counseling is and why it is important to get it; developmental issues at six different age levels; pain assessment and pain management; how to lower the likelihood of pain crises; and new treatments and research. Some of the research and treatments, including research being done at Emory, involve bone marrow transplants and the use of hydroxyurea, a drug recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat adults with sickle cell disease. Other research studies that were conducted in Atlanta, including highly refined fish oil to prevent pain crises and trans-cranial doppler ultrasound (TCD) to detect children at risk for strokes, are discussed in the book.

"This is truly a Sickle Cell Center project," says Platt, who served as primary editor of the book. "We really hope this book helps the general public understand sickle cell disease and helps families cope with this disease. We also hope it will raise awareness and show people that sickle cell is an important health issue."

Melanie Jacob, M.D., assistant professor of family medicine in the Department of Hematology and Oncology at the Emory University School of Medicine, Winship Cancer Institute, and assistant director at the Georgia Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center, also has high hopes for the book.

"This book spells out hope and destiny for the average person with sickle cell disease," Dr. Jacob says. "For the longest time, it has always been a case of lost hope for patients with this disease. But as awareness of sickle cell is developed, hope is enhanced, and our ultimate destiny is a universal cure."

"Hope and Destiny" also features several patient stories, as well as information on pain management and sickle cell trait, which affects one out of 10 African Americans in the United States. It is estimated that more than 2.5 million Americans have the trait, which does not result in the full-blown disease unless two carriers have offspring who receive the trait from both their mother and their father.

The Georgia Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center is the largest combined adult and pediatric multidisciplinary clinic in the state actively following over 1,500 patients. It is the world's first 24-hour primary care clinic for patients with sickle cell syndromes, and receives over $1.5 million annually in state and federal grant funds.

For more information on sickle cell disease, visit

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