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June 19 is World Sickle Cell Day

A light skinned woman with a lanyard around her neck stands with a dark skinned female youth

Left to Right: Chantale Deyoung, Hemoglobinopathy Nurse Coordinator and Anne Olaniyi, sickle cell patient.

Since 2021 when she started in her role as Hemoglobinopathy Nurse Coordinator Chantale Deyoung has witnessed the pediatric Sickle Cell population in the Maritimes double in size and it continues to grow.

“June 19 holds special significance to me as it's World Sickle Cell Day,” says Deyoung. “It’s a day dedicated to raising awareness about sickle cell disease and improving the lives of those affected by this chronic condition.”

Along with providing direct patient care Deyoung also educates families and nurses about the complexities of sickle cell disease (SCD) as well as advocating for better resources and support.

Deyoung recently attended the International Association of Sickle Cell Nurses and Professional Associates Sickle Cell Bootcamp in Memphis, TN. The five-day intensive training program in collaboration with University of Tennessee and St. Jude's Hospital brought together healthcare professionals from around the world to deepen understanding of sickle cell disease management.

“The knowledge and skills gained from the IASCNAPA Bootcamp have empowered me to deliver more informed, compassionate, and effective care to my patients,” says Deyoung. “On this World Sickle Cell Day, I am reminded of the importance of continued education and collaboration in the fight against sickle cell disease. By working together and staying informed, we can make significant strides in improving outcomes and quality of life for individuals living with SCD in the Maritimes.”

International World Sickle Cell Awareness Day is observed annually with the goal to increase public knowledge and an understanding of sickle cell disease, and the challenges experienced by patients and their families and caregivers. Sickle cell disease is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders that affect hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen through the body. Normally, red blood cells are disc-shaped and flexible enough to move easily through the blood vessels. In sickle cell disease, red blood cells become crescent- or “sickle”-shaped due to a genetic mutation. These sickled red blood cells do not bend or move easily and can block blood flow to the rest of the body.

Sickle cell disease is the most common inherited condition in Canada. Over 6,000 people across the country are currently living with sickle cell disease — and that number is continuing to grow.