Jefferson University Hospitals

Sickle Cell Disease

Jefferson's Comprehensive Sickle Cell Program, a collaboration between the Division of Hematology and the Division of Internal Medicine, is among the best in the Philadelphia region for expertly diagnosing and treating sickle cell disease.

Making the exact diagnosis of sickle cell disease is important for treatment, prognosis and genetic counseling. This often requires sophisticated laboratory testing not routinely available in many hospitals. Our Program has a special diagnostic lab capable of making the exact molecular diagnosis of sickle cell anemia or other inherited disorder of red blood cell hemoglobin.

Managing Your Care

Our physicians include board-certified internists who will oversee the management of your care and sickle cell hematologists who will offer expertise in hematological care. Other team members include an outpatient sickle cell nurse, a day unit sickle cell nurse, a sickle cell social worker, a psychiatrist and nurse practitioners with experience in inpatient sickle cell care.

The Program focuses on competent and compassionate long-term care. Our primary goal is excellence in clinical management and an emphasis on quality of life. We actively participate in research including clinical trials of new therapeutic approaches to sickle cell disease in order to improve the care of present and future patients with the disease.

If you are living with sickle cell disease, you can attend a monthly patient self-support group meeting coordinated by a Jefferson social worker who will teach you techniques to reduce stress and help you learn as much as possible about your disease and its complications.

We also work with the regional pediatric sickle cell centers to ensure a smooth transition from pediatric care to adult care. Please call 215-955-6180 to schedule an appointment or to receive additional information about the program from our nurse coordinator.

Bone Marrow Transplant Candidates

In some severe cases of sickle cell disease, a bone marrow transplant may be the best course of treatment.

A significant advantage of seeking treatment at Jefferson is access to the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, should a bone marrow transplant be a viable option for your care. Our specialists at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center provide complete care and state-of-the-art surgical options if you are a candidate for a bone marrow transplant.

Preventing Complications

Preventing the complications of sickle cell anemia is an especially important aspect of managing the disease. At Jefferson, we offer:

  • Chelation therapy: Patients with sickle cell can become iron overloaded due to frequent blood transfusions. This iron overload can damage bodily organs including the heart, liver and joints. Programs are available for eligible patients to receive novel therapies to remove the excess iron from the body and thereby prevent organ damage.
  • Blood Transfusion/Blood Exchange Transfusion Program: We have an active program of red blood cell transfusion/exchange transfusion, which is used to treat and/or prevent many of the complications of sickle cell disease. Patients who have had stroke are routinely managed in this manner to prevent recurrent stroke. Other indications of blood exchange may be acute chest syndrome, complicated pregnancy or major surgery.