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Too many children live too far from sickle cell treatment they need


Back in September, the fuel pump on Cynthia Barnes’ car gave out, leaving the single mother of two with no way to get her daughter to her next doctor’s appointment.

For two months, this was the case, but they eventually got back on track, easing back into a monthly routine: a three-hour drive from their home in Tifton to Augusta University Medical Center.

It’s a long ride but a necessary one. Barnes’ 11-year-old daughter has sickle cell disease, and Augusta is the closest facility offering comprehensive care for those with the blood disorder.

Other sickle cell patients should be so lucky.

According to the latest Sickle Cell Data Collection program brief, many children with sickle cell disease and their families not only face long drives to health care providers, they have limited access to doctors who can provide the specialized treatment they need.

It’s a problem that can mean more than a few missed checkups. It can mean forgoing crucial treatments like badly needed blood transfusions.

Currently, there are four cities in Georgia with pediatric sickle cell disease centers that offer daily care: Atlanta, Augusta, Macon and Savannah. Six additional sites offer periodic specialty clinics, typically one day a month.

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