UConn Health, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, and the American Red Cross have created an identification card for individuals with sickle cell disease, to ensure patients in need are properly treated at any hospital they might visit.
The New England Sickle Cell Institute at UConn Health and the Hemoglobin Disorders Clinic at Connecticut Children’s treat a combined 500-600 patients with sickle cell disease, a group of inherited red blood cell disorders that involve oxygen-carrying hemoglobin turning from a normal round shape to a crescent, or sickle, shape. The sickle-shaped cells cause blockages that prevent the flow of oxygen in blood vessels and can be extremely painful.
According to David Rosinski, Director of Cardiovascular Perfusion at UConn Health, Connecticut Children’s, and the Heart Center of Greater Waterbury, when patients have to be seen at centers other than the ones where they are treated, they are often thought to be simply looking for pain medication.
Many hospitals decide to perform a quick transfusion on these patients, which can make it harder to properly treat the patient through apheresis later.
Sickle cell patients ideally receive blood during apheresis from like donors, Rosinski says. For example, African American sickle cell patients should, if possible, receive blood from African American donors, because there are certain antibodies present in the blood cells that are specific to their genetic profiles.
The card indicates where the patient is being treated and provides contact information for the UConn and Connecticut Children’s programs and blood banks so doctors can confirm proper next steps.