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Call for a National Sickle Cell Screening Programme

A newly-formed campaigning organisation on sickle cell disease (SCD) has called for the introduction of a national screening programme for the condition in Ireland.

Ireland Sickle Cell Awareness, a registered organisation raising public awareness and lobbying for the introduction of public policy on SCD in Ireland, will be holding an educational event next Thursday (April 25).

The aim of the event being held from 7pm-9.30pm at the Red Cow Moran Hotel, Dublin, is to call for “a proper genetic screening programme for the condition in newborn babies, adults and expectant mothers”, founding President Lora Ruth Wogu said.

A Phlebotomist at St Vincent’s University Hospital, Wogu said the event is open to the public.

SCD is an inherited blood disorder most common in Africans and African-Americans, although it is also found in other ethnic and racial groups, including people from South and Central America, the Caribbean, Mediterranean countries, Italy, Turkey and India.

Wogu, who is originally from Uganda in East Africa and has a brother with the blood disorder, said as more and more immigrants settled in Ireland, the chances of people from SCD-prone countries or their offspring marrying increased, in turn increasing the likelihood of the disease, which occurs when a child inherits two sickle haemoglobin genes, one from each parent.

There was little awareness of SCD in Ireland, said Wogu, inviting people interested in supporting the not-for-profit organisation or attending the event to find out more about the condition to contact Ireland Sickle Cell Awareness on telephone number 087 065 6807.  She is supported by specialist consultant haematologists Prof Donald McCarthy in St Vincent’s and Dr Corrina McMahon in Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin, among others.

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