About two years ago, I heard a friend praise her OBGYN with fond admiration. In my mind, I laughed and thought, “this girl can’t be serious, who loves their OB that much?” Well, not long after, I met Dr. Mac in person and she is just as stellar as my friend described. She exhibits compassion, patience, and kindness which are qualities that I cherish in others. Thank you Dr. Mac, for connecting with me and for being willing to share information about sickle cell disease from the perspective of a physician.
Why is it important for couples to know their sickle cell trait status?
It’s important for couples to know their sickle cell trait status because 1:4 of their children could potentially have the disease which has a great deal of sequela not only on that family’s life but on that individual.
Is there one myth that you would like to dispel about people living with sickle cell disease?
I would like to dispel the myth that only individuals of African or African American descent have a risk of having sickle cell trait or sickle cell disease. Sickle Cell Disease is also found in Hispanics, Asians, Indians, and people of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern descent.
If two potential parents both are carriers of sickle cell trait, are their any medical procedures that can guarantee their offspring will not have sickle cell disease?
Elle, unfortunately not at this time. What you are talking about is arranging the genetic material. Let’s go back to genetics class for a quick second. Our genetics are randomly lined up at conception. Our DNA lines up like a ladder and then takes a spiral shape. We get 1/2 of the ladder from mom and 1/2 from dad and when they line up in a way that is compatible with what I usually say simplistically (because it’s more complex indeed), life outside of mom then a pregnancy proceeds to term. Let’s assign the letters big S and little s to No disease and trait respectively. Let’s remember, you have to have two letters to express a gene. If you have both parents that have Ss (this is the trait) when you have these two people come together their combinations can be Ss, Ss, SS, ss. So that’s trait, trait, no disease and disease. And this is formulated by Mendelian Genetics.
Which publications would you recommend people read who want to learn more about sickle cell disease?
I must admit I don’t have any “go tos”. I believe those like yourself on the front lines sometimes actually educate me. I find that individuals dealing with a particular situation create a community and emerge as the “tribe leader” so to speak and in doing so it grants people like me the ability to point in the direction of the “tribe”. And it is here they can find what resource most speak to their immediate need.
Why is sickle cell awareness important for all communities to understand?
It is my belief that once there is awareness, not just about sickle cell but about various aspects of life, we can begin to connect our “dots” and become an active participant with our healthcare providers, our trusted adviser’s and really experience the picture of whole person care.
How are you raising awareness about sickle cell disease?
I haven’t done anything very active in the past besides pre-conceptual or prenatal counseling in the clinical setting. Now, I’m going to raise awareness by having you on my show, House Call with Dr. Mac, so you can help me connect the health dots.
LaKeischa Webb McMillan was born and raised in Huntsville, Alabama. She earned her undergraduate degree in Biology (cum laude) from Oakwood College, now Oakwood University, and continued on to Loma Linda University School of Medicine, where she graduated in 2001. In addition to her academic degrees, LaKeischa is certified in the use of the DiVinci Robotic System for Minimally Invasive Laparoscopic Surgery. She also has an extensive research and lecture portfolio, which includes publications in respected industry journals.
After completing her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology, she entered group practice in 2006. In 2012 she transitioned out of the clinical setting and is now the Medical Director of Education without Walls for McMillan Enterprises. She is also the host of House Call with Dr. Mac, a podcast series launched in July 2014. LaKeischa is a Junior Fellow in the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and received an award for Resident Teacher of the Year in 2004.
A gifted speaker, LaKeischa has a passion for helping people to slow down, empowering them to make healthy lifestyle choices, and teaching individuals how to reverse the signs of aging.
When she is not working, LaKeischa enjoys reading and playing “football” with her kids. She lives in Bowie, Maryland, with her husband Wendell and her two children, seven-year-old Wendell III and Skylar Nicole who will be celebrating her second birthday in August.
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