Lansdowne author raises awareness about sickle cell disease

Posted: December 24, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Dominique Friend doesn't look like she's sick. But the Lansdowne resident often deals with bouts of pain so severe she ends up in the hospital for weeks.

Friend, 44, was born with sickle cell disease, an inherited blood disorder that affects an estimated 90,000 to 100,000 in the U.S., according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information.

Her autobiography "Sickle" was released by Tate Publishing on Dec. 9 in a second edition, after she self-published the book in 2009.

In the book, she tells of her struggle with the debilitating disease. Friend said she shared her personal account to raise awareness about the disease, which predominantly affects African-Americans. It is also found in those of Hispanic and Mediterranean descent, according to CDC information.

Friend said for as long as she can recall, she has dealt with painful episodes that are characteristic of sickle cell disease.

Pain develops when sickle-shaped red blood cells, that should be round like a doughnut, block the blood flow to the chest, joints and other parts of the body, Friend explained. It can last for a few hours to a few weeks and such episodes are called "crises," she said.

"I would take the pain of childbirth over a sickle cell crisis any day," said Friend, who has three children, two stepdaughters and two granddaughters.

She has been married to Michael Friend for 18 years.

The painful disease can disrupt learning for children and make it difficult for adults to work, said Dr. Sophie Lanzkron, an assistant professor of medicine and oncology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

A bone marrow transplant or stem cell transplant is the only cure, according to the CDC website.

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Lansdowne author raises awareness about sickle cell disease

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