Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) Month is recognized all September long and according to Dr. Ras-Jah Rupert Roopi, this genetic blood disorder must not be taken lightly, as it is prevalent in people of African, Hispanic, Southern European, and Middle Eastern, Asian and Indian ancestry.
The renowned physician in a recent interview with The Freeport News revealed that statistical medical health research indicates that one in every 365 black children born in the United States of America has Sickle Cell Disease or has inherited sickle cell trait from one or both parents.
Sickle Cell Disease is a life-long illness that varies in severity from person to person, as it concerns abnormal hemoglobin, which is a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body.
Explaining that abnormal hemoglobin is typically called hemoglobin S or sickle hemoglobin and when a person has two hemoglobin S genes, Hemoglobin SS, the disease is called sickle cell anemia, Dr. Roopi pointed out that there are indeed several forms of the disease with the most common and often most severe kind being SCD.
“The SCD Movement in The Bahamas began in 1973, when then Prime Minister the Late Sir Lynden O. Pindling praised Bahamian actor Sir Sidney Poitier for his movie a Warm December, which co-starred Jamaican actress Esther Anderson, who won an NAACP Image Award for Best Actress due to her role in the film that shed light on the misconstrued notions and beliefs surrounding the disease.
“The then Sickle Cell Association of The Bahamas Grand Bahama Branch co-chairpersons were Sister Sylvia Davis and Jacob Cooper, who along with myself and the support of Howard Hughes and Dorothy Rand purchased two SCD machines for patients to undergo Sickle Cell Electrophoresis.
“Initially back then, I thought I had no family members living with SCD so my interest in the disease was purely from a professional standpoint.
“Upon witnessing an increase in the number of patients diagnosed with SCD in Jamaica and not many physicians in my opinion doing work in The Bahamas to deal with it, I decided to learn more about the disease and return home to help those diagnosed combat it,” said Dr. Roopi.
Admitting that a few years later one of his nieces had been diagnosed with suffering from sickle cell trait symptoms, Dr. Roopi declared from then on he was determined to understand SCD and use the best treatments to provide the best in medical care to all.
Furthermore, Dr. Roopi said it was important for every member of The Bahamas to know that Sickle Cell Anemia is a disease, stating, “Although in the medical profession it may be said that sickle cell trait is not a full blown disease, it is imperative that one knows whether he or she has the trait.
“Also when persons decide to enter the covenant of marriage to ensure that the proper physical examinations and screening are carried out to know whether or not one or both spouse may have the sickle cell trait, as you do not want to mate and pass on the abnormal gene to your child which could be dangerous for mother and/or baby,” Dr. Roopi reveals.
The Bahamas Sickle Cell Association will travel to Grand Bahama conducting a Public Forum this Friday, September 16, 2016 beginning at 6:00 p.m. at the Grand Bahama Family Worship Center with Rev. Dr. Cardinal McIntosh.
For more information regarding The Bahamas Sickle Cell Association the public is advised to visit the organization’s website at http://www.bahamassicklecell.org/ or telephone the Association’s office located in Nassau, New Providence on Dean’s Lane, Fort Charlotte at 1-242-436 7130/1-242-427 4849 as well as visit its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Bahamas-Sickle-Cell-Association-1490584487911445/
Published Wednesday, September 14, 2016