Pediatric Sickle Cell Program
The UF Health Pediatric Sickle Cell Program – Jacksonville is
designed to get children with sickle cell disease into a variety of specialty care
routines as quickly as possible.
A team of specialists comprised of University of Florida faculty
pediatricians and skilled nursing staff provides a broad range of services
to children and their families, from genetic counseling and medical management,
to education and emotional support. A particular emphasis is placed on empowering
older teens to take control of their lives and their health.
Sickle cell disease is a hereditary abnormality that causes hemoglobin, the protein
that carries oxygen in the blood, to change into sickle-like shapes that clog blood
vessels and obstruct blood flow. Also known as sickle cell anemia, sickle cell disease
primarily affects people of African descent, but it can be present in those of Mediterranean,
Middle Eastern and East Indian origin.
Unlike normal red blood cells, sickle cells are hard and pointed and have a tendency
to get stuck in narrow blood vessels and block the flow of blood, causing severe
pain and other serious problems, even death. Some children with sickle cell disease
may show very few symptoms, while others have many. In addition to anemia, they
suffer from serious conditions, such as severe pain crises, stroke, bone damage,
gallstones, kidney damage, eye damage, delayed growth and multiple organ complications.
Aside from a bone marrow transplant, there is no known cure for the disease. Even
without a cure, though, children with sickle cell anemia can lead relatively normal,
active lives with consistent and regular care and treatment.
The pediatric sickle cell program provide the following services:
- Adolescent transitional program for patients 16 and older lead by a nurse educator
- Care coordination with primary care physicians
- Classroom visitation by staff to talk with teachers and peers
- Family and caregiver instruction on pain and fever management
- Guidance to families and caregivers on recognition of the need of emergency care
- Health education
- Psychological evaluation and counseling
- Regular visits with a hematologist/oncologist
- Social services
- Support groups for patients and their families
- Tutorial services for children in all grade levels