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Patient Story: Rona Wiggins 'Living Well With Sickle Cell Disease'

6/18/2020

​​​​Before Rona Wiggins found a way to manage her chronic sickle cell disease, all aspects of her life were impacted negatively. Rona's not alone. She's one of a growing number of patients around the world grappling with this painful and debilitating condition.

In support of this year's World Sickle Cell Day, Terumo BCT aims to raise awareness of this critical global health issue.  

Did you know?

  • Sickle cell disease is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders that is more common in certain ethnic groups: people of African descent, including African Americans (1 in 12 carries a sickle cell gene), Hispanic Americans from Central and South America, and people of Middle Eastern, Asian, Indian, and Mediterranean descent, according to the American Society of Hematology.
  • Healthy red blood cells are round and move through small blood vessels to carry oxygen to all parts of the body. In someone who has sickle cell disease, the red blood cells become hard and sticky and look like a C-shaped tool called a "sickle." Sickle cells die early, leading to a constant shortage of red blood cells.
  • When these damaged cells travel through small blood vessels, they get stuck and clog the blood flow. According to the CDC, this can cause pain and other serious problems such as infection, acute chest syndrome and stroke.
  • Approximately 300,000 babies are born with sickle cell disease each year. By 2050, the number of people with sickle cell disease is expected to increase by about 30% globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Sickle cell remains a major killer of infants and children in the developing world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and India, where an estimated 50% to 90% of infants born with the disease will die before their fifth birthday, according to WHO.​

Automated Red Blood Cell Exchange​
During automated red blood cell exchange (RBCX), a patient's blood is first separated into its components — platelets, plasma and red blood cells — by a device such as the Spectra Optia® Apheresis System. The patient's sickled red blood cells are then removed from the blood, discarded and replaced by healthy donor red blood cells. A doctor determines the frequency of treatment, which takes about two hours, and many patients say it gives them a sense of predictability and normalcy as they manage a chronic condition. Sickle cell disease patient Rona Wiggins says RBCX has helped increase her quality of life.

Patient Journey: Rona's Story

My name is Rona Wiggins, and I have SS type sickle cell disease. Sickle cell disease has affected every aspect of my life: my work, my relationships, my ability to travel. Before I started red blood cell exchange, I was not effectively treating my symptoms, I was still having crises and was not having a good quality of life. Now, I have been on automated RBCX for over 20 years, and I am living well with sickle cell."​

Hear Rona's story on how she is living her best life with sickle cell disease.

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