Sickle Cell group raises awareness about testing - WRBL

Sickle Cell group raises awareness about testing

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COLUMBUS, Ga. -

You may not have the sickle cell disease but 1 of every 9 people in Georgia may have the trait. A local group is urging people to get tested for it, because if you have it, your children could be affected.

Patsy Niver has 2 children. One with sickle cell anemia and the other with the sickle cell trait.

"When I first learned that my child had the disease I know nothing about it. I didn't know who to go to for help or how it was going to affect them," said Niver.

She credits the Association of Sickle Cell for the Lower Chattahooche Valley for providing guidance and support for her and her kinds.

The group took to the streets Saturday morning walking from 3rd avenue to Broadway to 5th street with a simple message: Get tested. There are about 2 and a half million Americans with the sickle cell trait, and officials say if both you and your spouse have that trait, there's a 1 in 4 chance that your child will have the disease.

"You need to know about your genes. You need to know what you're passing," said Harold Dobbs.

Dobbs, who screens for sickle cell, said it's not just African-Americans who need to get tested.

"Every ethnic group should be tested for sickle cell because it's not just a black disorder. It's primarily found in black people, but if you have any Italian, Sicilian, Greek ancestral background there's a possibility you carry this gene also," said Dobbs. He said younger people should test for the blood disorder also.

There is no cure for the hereditary disease but the symptoms like organ damage and stroke can be treated.

"You can live a normal life. Don't stop doing what you do," said Dobbs.

Niver said she is grateful to the group and will continue to support their events no matter how big or small.

"Even if only 1 person showed up, it's be worth it because you'd get it out there for one person," said Niver.

If you're interested in testing you can visit http://sicklecellga.org/sickle-cell-disease/ for more information about locations.

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