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Sickle Cell Disease

Our patients always come first.

Our supportive care has been proven to break the cycle of sickling and decrease visits to the Emergency Room.

Our team includes two nurse practitioners and a hematologist. Patients are seen in our clinics once or twice a week for fluids and help with pain. Patients with frequent pain crises can see a provider every two weeks and are placed on a partial exchange protocol every 2-4 weeks. This has been proven to decrease the number of sickling cells and improve their pain and health.

Patients also meet regularly with a psychologist to help them manage the stresses of the disease and life with Sickle Cell.

If you believe you or a family member may have sickle cell disease or would like to be screened, make an appointment with your MetroHealth primary care provider.

If you have already been diagnosed, call 216-77-TREAT (216-778-7328).

What is Sickle Cell?

It is a blood condition passed down to the child from both parents who are carriers of the sickle cell gene. Normal red blood cells are smooth and can fold and slide through the vessels carrying oxygen to different parts of the body. Sickle cell are shaped like a half-moon or a bow. They are sticky to each other and do not move easily through the blood vessels. This interferes with the delivery of oxygen to the body.  

Parents who are carriers have a 25% chance of having a child with sickle cell disease.


Each patient may experience different symptoms of the disease. Some common symptoms are low blood counts and yellowing of eye and mouth.

Some patients suffer from recurrent pain crisis presenting with pain in one or multiple areas of the body. These patients are at higher risk for strokes and an enlarged spleen which presents as an enlarged, tender and firm left side of the abdomen.

Male patients are also at risk for priapism, which is a prolonged painful obstruction of blood flow to the penis which can lead to impotence if not treated urgently.

Prevention and Treatment

Early treatment and prevention decreases infections and damage of other important organs of the body. It also reduces admission rates for pain crisis.

Hydration, folic acid, antibiotics are essential in preventing complications from the disease.

Pain medication, blood transfusion and sickle cell maintenance medicines (hydroxyurea, crizanlizumab, voxelotor, L-glutamine) are used in patient with more than 2 pain crises a year.

Iron binding medicines are used to in patients with high iron concentration due to multiple blood transfusion.

Newer treatments like gene therapy and bone marrow transplant are used for the treatment and potential cure of sickle cell.

Eye exam and heart echocardiogram every 1-2 years is very important in detecting early complications of the disease and treating them.

Complications of sickle cell disease

  • Multi-organ failure
  • Multiple infections
  • Chronic, hard-to-treat leg ulcers
  • Gallbladder stones that can cause gallbladder pain and infection
  • Joint and bone damage