(l-r Riche Holmes Grant, Richard Snow, T. Espinoza, Elle Cole)St. Jude and History of Sickle Cell Disease

In 1968, fifty-eight years after the first person in the United States was diagnosed with sickle cell disease African-American physician Dr. Rudolph Jackson helped establish the sickle cell program at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Even today, the hospital remains a leading center for sickle cell care worldwide. In fact, the St. Jude sickle cell program is named one of 10 Comprehensive Sickle Cell Centers by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

The History of Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Month

In 1975, the Congressional Black Caucus along with the National Association of Sickle Cell Disease (now known as the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America) petitioned the U.S. House of Representatives to make September National Sickle Cell Awareness Month. In August 1983, their efforts became official when former president Ronald Reagan passed a resolution declaring September National Sickle Cell Awareness month.

7th Annual National Pan Hellenic Council Call to Service

Now more than 30 years later St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital gathers in Washington, DC during black Caucus week to celebrate the health initiatives that are spearheaded at the hospital. Their effort helps children living worldwide and in African American communities who have complex and life-threatening illnesses. 2019 marked the 7th Annual National Pan Hellenic Council Call to Service Reception.

The Divine Nine

At the 7th annual reception, St. Jude Children’s research hospital thanked and honored several community supporters from fraternities and sororities affectionately known as the Divine Nine. These fraternities and sororities raise money throughout the year to help promote research at St. Jude to help families living with sickle cell disease, cancer, and other rare diseases that are treated at the hospital. The members of the Divine Nine have raised millions of dollars to help St. Jude run.

St. Jude Call to Service reception

About 40% of the patients seen at St. Jude are African American

St. Jude Call to Service reception (L-R Quinnes “Q” Parker, Riche Holmes Grant, Richard Snow, T. Espinoza, Kimberlin Wilson-George, and Elle Cole)

The fraternities and sororities who are member of the divine nine are:

  1. Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.
  2. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.
  3. Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.
  4. Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.
  5. Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.
  6. Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc.
  7. Zeta Phi Beta Sorority inc.
  8. Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc.
  9. Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Inc.

Cured of Sickle Cell Disease

During the night of celebration and education, Kimberlin Wilson-George took the stage and shared her miraculous story about how she was cured of Sickle Cell Disease in 1983 at St. Jude.

St. Jude was the first institution to cure sickle cell disease with a bone marrow transplant in the 1980s.

Consequently, when Kimberlin arrived at St. Jude she was a Leukemia patient who happened to also have sickle cell disease. Kimberlin underwent a bone marrow transplant to target her cancer. However, the procedure also cured her of sickle cell disease and she became the first person in the world cured of sickle cell disease through a bone marrow transplant.  While a bone marrow transplant is a cure, it is not a viable remedy for all sickle cell patients and St. Jude continues to consider and study additional treatments for sickle cell disease.

St. Jude has one of the largest sickle cell disease programs in the country with more than 800 patients.

Furthermore, the Call to Service is a gathering that encourages all in the room to continue their commitment to helping St. Jude make children who are suffering from sickle cell disease, cancer, and other rare diseases a priority. At the Call to Service reception, attendees also had an opportunity to give and St. Jude received over $20,000 from participants.

Make a Difference

Dare to make a difference! Stand with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and help make a difference in the lives of children living with a devastating diagnosis. “Because the majority of St. Jude funding comes from individual contributors, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has the freedom to focus on what matters most—saving kids regardless of their financial situation.” Learn more about how you can partner and help it fulfill Danny Thomas’ dream for “no child to die in the dawn of life.”

Support the St. Jude Sickle Cell Disease program

Donate to St. Jude online: Ways to Help

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