Nonprofit raises awareness for World Sickle Cell Day

Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 6:33 PM CDT
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HATTIEESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - June 19 is not just about freedom, this year it’s also World Sickle Cell Day.

Dr. Melissa McNaull, director of the sickle cell program at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, says sickle cell is an inherited disease that you can only get from both of your parents.

“It makes the hemoglobin a little bit different, it makes it a different shape, and so the red blood cells break down real easily,” McNaull said.

This causes pain and organ damage throughout the body.

McNaull says one of the most common misconceptions about the disease is who can get it.

“Here in Mississippi and the southern part of the U.S., it is mostly our African-American families that are effected by it because of the natural history of the disease and the genetics of the disease, but anyone can have sickle cell disease,” McNaull said.

Catherine Freeman lost her 21-year-old daughter, Monique, to sickle cell disease in 2004.

“She was diagnosed at 3 months [old], she had a stroke at 6 years old and she passed at age 21,” Freeman said.

Since then, Freeman has created a nonprofit foundation for sickle cell patients called “Monique’s Place.”

“We’re reaching out to the community, reaching out to the family and letting them know that Monique’s Place is here, and we also have counseling for them,” Freeman said. “That’s important, counseling, and the support of your family, that’s very important.”

The organization hosts fundraisers each year recently purchased a facility in Hattiesburg. Director of the foundation, Janice Darty, says now they are looking for someone to adopt them

“We need funds to provide things for our patients so that they can eat at the hospitals, so we hope we can find someone to adopt us,” Darty said.

If you would like to help the foundation, you can reach out to them on Facebook or call 601-818-0003 or 601-467-8954.

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