Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center at UT Physician Treating Patients in Houston

“What a relief!” It’s a common saying, as patients leave the comprehensive sickle cell center at UT Physician.

This Sickle Cell Awareness Month, we want to make sure you know how the center is improving the lives of sickle cell patients.

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We spoke to several patients who have certainly benefited from treatment there, especially through clinical trials, with the latest treatments.

Naomi Wesson is one of them. She has persevered through the pain of sickle cell disease since she was four years old, but she shares a message of hope.

“All the predictions that I would never live past 18, that I wouldn’t have kids. Luckily I was able to have kids. I was able to go to college and I I was able to pursue my goals, but it was really, really hard. I had to fight,” says Naomi.


Dr. Modupe Idowu is the executive director of the Center and explains that sickle cell disease disproportionately affects African Americans and Hispanic Americans. It also helps us better understand why sickle cell disease runs wild and causes so much pain.

“Red blood cells, instead of the spherical shape, the normal spherical shape, they actually change to a sickle shape when in a deoxygenated state or under stress. If the patient is possibly dehydrated or infected, some cells, when they’re sickled they get stuck to very small blood vessels and they don’t transport oxygen to the tissues or organs very well and the end result will be organ damage, dysfunction,” says Dr. Idowu This can lead to organ failure and excruciating body pain.

Naomi does her best to describe the pain.

“I have sometimes called it a toothache in the bones because it mainly affects my joints, but sickle cell disease affects all parts of your body. So it can also affect your muscles, your organs. Think about it, wherever the blood flows, it is affected,” Naomi exclaims.

Kisha McClintock understands how it affects her and is also undergoing clinical trials at the same center. She always knew she had the sickle cell trait, but she only experienced her first symptom nine years ago.

“This pain is indescribable! I mean, sometimes the pain is over 10. The pain is so bad it’s bruising all over my body. I guess from lack of oxygen,” Kisha says.

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Her pain level has also decreased and her quality of life is better than ever, after seeking treatment at the sickle cell centre.

“It gives you hope, especially when you have a family, someone else who depends on you, besides you! I’ll try anything. It’s a glimpse of change in sickle cell disease “, says Kisha.

“I was losing 50-60% of my quality of life due to my hospital stay and I’m generally able to manage episodes of pain at home now,” says Naomi.

“One of the patients said it was the first time I felt like a normal person in my life, so they were very grateful for the opportunity to participate in this study,” says Dr. Idowu.

She is also proud that patients can consult several specialists at her clinic on the same day.

“We actually offer the behavioral team, when they come in they can see a case manager, a social worker on the same day. Not only that, if they want to see a family doctor for maintenance needs , next to a sickle cell hematologist, they can get their echocardiogram (cardiac test), labs, imaging, studies done on the same day,” says Dr. Idowu.

All of the appointments for a chronic condition like sickle cell disease can get overwhelming, but these options make the process easier for them.

For more information, click here.

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