Sickle Cell Clinic Celebrates 1st Anniversary at MLK

All photos by Diandra Jay / Board of Supervisors.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Outpatient Center celebrates the first anniversary of its Sickle Cell Disease Clinic to serve adults suffering from this painful and sometimes deadly blood condition. It is estimated there are 5,100 sickle cell patients in Southern California, most of whom are African American. Sickle cell disease can lead to numerous complications, including anemia, recurring pain episodes, respiratory troubles, and even death.

“It has been a great year for advancing treatment of sickle cell disease in the County of Los Angeles,” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas at the clinic’s recent celebration of its first year in operation.

Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new medication called Endari that was developed by researcher Dr. Yutaka Niihara from LA Biomed and the Harbor UCLA faculty to help treat the condition.

Once thought of as a childhood illness, sickle cell disease is also common among adults since many with this condition are now living into adulthood thanks to improved treatments. But it can be challenging to find clinics with the expertise and resources to appropriately manage patients with this complex condition.

“Adults with sickle cell disease deserve health care providers that understand the disease, its complications, and their pain. Knowing the people who worked hard to open this clinic gives me confidence it will meet the community’s needs,” said Mary Brown, Director of the Sickle Cell Disease Foundation of California.

The new clinic is the first new focused facility in decades built to serve adults in Los Angeles County with sickle cell disease.