Sickle Cell Foundation of Palm Beach County and Treasure Coast, Inc. (SCF) is a voluntary 501(C)(3) nonprofit health organization that serves the 5-counties of Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and St. Lucie in Southeast Florida. The mission of the organization is to improve the quality of life for persons with Sickle Cell Disease or Trait, and members of their families, and to educate the general public about this devastating blood disorder.
Sickle Cell Disease is a condition that affects the red blood cells and is the most common of genetic disorders. Although it is a global disease, it primarily affects Blacks and members of the darker races. Originating as a genetic adaptation to protect the body against malaria, this disease is more prevalent among persons from Africa, Continent of India and Mediterranean-Basin where malaria was endemic. It is also found among Asians, South and Central Americans and people from the Middle East. Individuals who inherit the sickle gene from both parents, have Sickle Cell Disease and those who inherit the sickle gene from only one parent have Sickle Cell Trait.
Although Sickle Cell Disease affects everyone differently, there are common symptoms and manifestations of the disease. Red blood cells in persons with Sickle Cell have a duration of about 20 days, as compared to the normal average of 120 days. When the red blood cells lose oxygen, their shape is transformed and they become hard and elongated, blocking the flow of blood and oxygen to that part(s) of the body where this occurs. This loss of oxygen can be extremely painful and is referred to as a “Sickle Cell crisis” or a “sickling episode”, and can require hospitalization for as little as a few days or as long as a few weeks. Sickle Cell Disease affects all parts of the body and, over time, there can be end-organ damage. It is not uncommon for children with Sickle Cell to experience strokes or brain infarcts.
In addition to outreach, advocacy and screening, the following services are available to persons with Sickle Cell Disease/Trait: basic life skills counseling, comprehensive case management, information and education to parents of infants who test positive for Sickle Cell Trait, and family support groups. Normalization/ socialization activities are primarily targeted to children and adolescents. Education about Sickle Cell Disease/Trait is provided to clients on an ongoing basis and presentations are made to such entities as health/human services providers, educators and school officials, child/daycare providers, chambers of commerce and employers, professional groups, civic/community and faith-based organizations. Professional development seminars are also provided for physicians, physician assistants and Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners. Social workers, nurses, case managers, family and mental health therapists, nutritionists, coaches, educators and allied health workers are also able to participate in professional development seminars.