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Media Contact: Alicia Lurry 23 September 2004    
  (404) 778-1503   Print  | Email ]

Emory Hematologists to Discuss Latest Approaches at Sickle Cell Association Meeting
James R. Eckman, MD, professor of hematology and oncology at the Emory University School of Medicine and director of the Georgia Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center at Grady Memorial Hospital, will join a team of Emory physicians and staff at the upcoming Sickle Cell Disease Association of America's 32nd Annual meeting on Sept. 29 through Oct. 2 at the Renaissance Waverly Hotel in Atlanta. Dr. Eckman and his colleagues will discuss the latest in sickle cell research and optimal care during painful episodes. The meeting is hosted by the Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia.

The Sickle Cell Disease Association of America is an association of all community-based sickle cell clinics, patients and families, health care providers, researchers, and other individuals interested in sickle cell throughout the United States. The meeting comes during National Sickle Cell Month, and is open to all patients, parents, and community members throughout metro Atlanta.

"It really is the coming together of healthcare providers, community sickle cell groups, patients, and parents of patients to learn of the many new advances in the care and support of those with sickle cell disease," Dr. Eckman said of this year's meeting.

On Friday, Oct. 1, Dr. Eckman will conduct a symposium on pain management, entitled "Seeking the Solution to Optimal Care of the Painful Episode," that will include participation by adults and parents of children with sickle cell disease, along with healthcare professionals, discussing sickle cell management. In the afternoon, Ann Haight, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at the Emory University School of Medicine, will lead a discussion about bone marrow transplantation.

That same day, the sickle cell center's web site,, will be discussed. Allan Platt, a certified physician assistant, will also discuss computer technology and its relationship to educating and improving the health care of patients with sickle cell disease.

On Saturday, Oct. 2, tours of the sickle cell center will be given. "We're opening our doors so people can see what we're doing," Dr. Eckman said. "We're still the only 24-hour comprehensive sickle cell clinic out there in the country, and we are here to serve our patients."

About Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle cell disease is an inherited disorder involving the chemical known as hemoglobin contained in red blood cells. Hemoglobin carries oxygen to all parts of the body. When sickle hemoglobin loses its oxygen, it forms long rods inside the red blood cells. This causes the red blood cell to lose its round, donut shape and form a hard, sickle, or crescent, shape. This "sickling" causes the red blood cell to break apart in 15 to 20 days instead of the normal 120 days. The quick turnover in red blood cells in sickle cell patients then causes anemia or a low red blood cell count. Sickled red blood cells can also block the blood vessels preventing the normal flow of oxygen and blood through the body. This blockage causes extreme pain and organ damage.

The sickling of red blood cells is aggravated by infections, extreme hot or cold temperatures, poor oxygen intake, not drinking enough fluids, and stress. Sickle cell disease primarily affects people of African descent, but also affects people from Italy, Greece, Israel, India, Pakistan, Spain, Central America, and the Caribbean. It is estimated that more than 2.5 million Americans have the trait, and over 80,000 have the disease.

For more information on sickle cell disease, visit

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