World Sickle Cell Awareness Day honored on June 19

Darian Graivshark
Releasing of the butterflies.

Formally known as Baton Rouge Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation and established in 1974, the Sickle Cell Association of South Louisiana (SCASL) celebrated Sickle Cell Day on June 19.

The event was a reception and press conference. In 2008, the United Nations General Assembly designated June 19 as Sickle Cell Day to help bring awareness, and shine light, to the disease. Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is present on four continents.

It is estimated that 500,000 individuals around the globe are born with SCD every year. It is also estimated that more than half will die before they reach the age of five due to poor access to quality care.

"SCD is the number one detective blood disorder in the United States, as well as the lowest funded condition in the United States. It costs three times the amount to care for a patient compared to what is funded to help cover the patient, especially for proper, quality treatments," said Lorri Burgess, Chief Executive Officer of the Sickle Cell Association of South Louisiana.

"The key is to increase life expectancy. In the past, most people wouldn't typically make it past the age of twenty. Now? We're surpassing that, especially with new light that is shining upon SCD."

The SCASL has helped over 3,000 adults and children in Louisiana. They are now expanding to serve 23 parishes in Louisiana. Recently, they partnered with Louisiana Healthcare Connections in the fight against SCD.

Marcus John Wallace, Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs at Louisiana Healthcare Connections, was presented with a plaque of appreciation for his partnership with SCASL.

A client of SCASL, Katrina Spotsville, whose daughter has SCD, said, "Having support of people like Marcus is important in advancing my daughter's life. As a mother, although I have not actually physically felt her pain, I still do feel her pain, and I hope that one day we can find a cure for SCD."

SCASL offers sickle cell support groups. Client and caregiver meetings are held on the third Wednesday of every month at noon. Parent meetings are on the second Saturday of every month at 11 a.m. Teen meetings are on the third Saturday of every month at 11 a.m.

The office is located at 2301 North Boulevard in Baton Rouge. You can also email beforehand with questions. The phone number to call is 225-346-8434. All attendees for support meetings are required to RSVP.

Want to support SCD? On August 24, 2019, Ryan's Run for Sickle Cell Anemia will be taking place in Baton Rouge! The run is a 5k/1 mile run/walk. The event helps SCASL fund their social services and support programs. It was also started by Ryan Clark.

Ryan Clark, Honorary Chairperson, joined ESPN as an NFL Analyst in Feb. of 2015. On this same day, he retired from professional football, which spanned from 2002 until 2014. Clark suffered a splenic infarction during his playing career, which was due to sickle cell disease. In 2012, Clark formed the Clark's Cure League to raise awareness about sickle cell, and with the hope of finding a cure.

Visit if you'd like to sign up for the event.

Follow Darian on Twitter @dariangshark.