Toledo Hospital adds adult sickle cell clinic

Published: Feb. 6, 2020 at 6:44 PM EST
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Sickle cell disease patients are living longer than ever. With more adult patients comes a need for more doctors and facilities to treat them.

There is no big ribbon-cutting ceremony for ProMedica Toledo Hospital's new adult sickle cell clinic. It does not even have a name yet.

But it's already changing lives.

"I've been coming to Toledo Hospital ever since I was a kid. I know the workers. It's like my second home," says Tautyauna Wilson.

Wilson is 28-years-old and has sickle cell disease.

Sickle cell disease is an incurable illness where unusually-shaped blood vessels cause pain and other health complications.

"It's like getting in a really tragic accident and surviving," says Wilson, describing her disease.

In past decades, the prognosis for sickle cell disease was bleak.

"Ninety percent of kids would die before the age of five years and very few of them would reach the age of 18," says Dr. Crawford Strunk, director of the new sickle cell center.

With medical advances, there are more adults with sickle cell disease today.

"The fact that 98% of our pediatric patients reach the age of 18 means we need a whole lot more providers to be able to take care of them when they're adults," says Strunk.

The majority of sickle cell patients are transitioned to doctors who are not sickle cell specialists when they become adults.

"Instead of transitioning them to adult patients, I just kept them," says Strunk.

Now, that work has become an official adult care center.

"I'm comfortable coming here. I know my doctor since I was a child. That's like my second dad," says Wilson.