New hope for people with Sickle Cell Anemia

By WEEK Producer

November 10, 2013 Updated Nov 11, 2013 at 11:06 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, African Americans, more than any other ethnic group in the United States, suffer from Sickle Cell Anemia.

Statistics show that one out of every 12 African Americans are born with the blood disorder when one of their parents have the trait.

There is a program in Peoria which has helped improve the quality of one patient's life.

Jackie Lewis, 53, is working out at a Peoria Gym, something she could not do a couple of years ago.

"The lack of oxygen that you use when you're exercising would throw me into a crisis, so I couldn't," said Jackie Lewis, Sickle Cell patient.

Jackie is one in about 100,000 African Americans in the United States born with Sickle Cell Anemia It's a condition that causes excruciating pain in limbs and organs. That's because red blood cells are misshaped and block blood flow.

"A normal blood cell is round, in sickle cell disease instead of that round shape the chemicals that make up your blood cells are different shape, they get flattened, they tend to get stuck," Dr. Mark Wolfmeyer, OSF St. Francis Medical Center.

Lewis has spent a lot of time in emergency rooms and hospitals, but now she takes her treatments at this Sickle Cell Clinic inside OSF St. Francis Medical Center.

"I can actually call the night before, tell them I'm having a crisis, give them a pain scale and Cami will say okay I'll see you at 8 in the morning," Lewis said.

Lewis is now on a regime of vitamins and says visits to the clinic are less often. She looks forward to spending more time exercising where she's also seeing positive results.

For information on the Sickle Cell Clinic at OSF St. Francis Medical Center call 624- 8818.

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