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June 19, 2024: Sickle Cell Awareness Day

WHEREAS, sickle cell disease is the most common inherited blood disorder in the United States, affecting approximately 100,000 Americans and millions around the world. It is estimated that about 4000 Michigan residents have sickle cell disease; and, 

WHEREAS, sickle cell disease is a genetic condition that is present at birth, inherited when a child receives two sickle cell genes – one from each parent. Michigan’s Newborn Screening Program identifies about 54 newborns with sickle cell disease and 2550 newborns with sickle cell trait each year; and, 

WHEREAS, this condition has long been associated with people of African descent; however, it can be found in many races and ethnic groups, including Middle Eastern, Latino, Asian, Mediterranean descent, and Caucasian people; and,  

WHEREAS, sickle cell causes changes in red blood cells; normal red blood cells are disc-shaped, flexible, and move easily through the blood vessels; for individuals with sickle cell disease, red blood cells are crescent, or “sickle” shaped. These cells do not bend or move easily and can block blood flow to the rest of the body. These blockages lead to debilitating pain, damage to organs, and life-threatening complications causing increased morbidity and early mortality; and, 

WHEREAS, timely and appropriate treatment of acute illness is critical because life-threatening complications can develop rapidly. It is essential that every individual with sickle cell disease receive comprehensive care that is coordinated through a medical home with appropriate expertise; and,

WHEREAS, Michigan is committed to improving capacity within health care systems across the state for sickle cell disease and recognizes the creation of a Sickle Cell Center of Excellence at Henry Ford Health; and,

WHEREAS, although vast health disparities continue to exist, we celebrate the groundbreaking development of new gene therapies, continued advancements in disease-modifying therapies, and increased efforts to acquire health data for decision-making; and,

WHEREAS, on this day, we unite to increase public knowledge and an understanding of sickle cell disease, the challenges experienced by patients and their families; and to improve the lives of those living with sickle cell disease in Michigan;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Gretchen Whitmer, governor of Michigan, do hereby proclaim June 19, 2024, as Sickle Cell Awareness Day in Michigan.