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Pageant queen shares story to boost sickle cell awareness

Multicultural Spotlight: Woman shares story to support sickle cell awareness

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Sickle cell is the most common inherited blood disease in the world, and people of African, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern descent are most likely to get it.

An Indiana woman is using her story to raise awareness.

Sickle cell is invisible to the eye. But, many people can experience excruciating pain as a result.

Experts hope to increase awareness of the disease through education and research.

Today, college student Sarah Holdcroft is an advocate for people living with sickle cell. As a youngster, the 20-year-old felt alone, as if she was the only one living with sickle cell. “I feel like, in high school, you try to blend in and try to just go through it without sticking out like a sore thumb.”

Sickle cell is an inherited disorder that causes blood cells to be sickle-shaped rather than round. The condition can clog blood flow causing excruciating pain.

Holdcroft, a Delaware County native, is using her platform as a pageant queen to share her story and raise awareness. “Being different, sometimes people think it’s a bad thing, but I think it’s the best word that describes me. That it’s OK.”

Holdcroft says, with continued support from her mom, she’ll keep using her platform for good. “If I could help one person out, to help them with sickle cell, educate them to help others, I feel like I really did a difference.”

Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis is ranked high in the nation for its sickle cell treatment. Dr. Seethal Jacob is one of the top doctors and says education around the disorder has room to grow. The physician said, “They may be perfectly well the day before, and today in excruciating pain and might be hospitalized.”

Jacob says 1 in every 400 African-American babies born in Indiana have sickle cell disease, and 1 in every 13 African-American babies born carry the trait.

The doctor who specializes in hematology and oncology says, in America, Black babies are the most at-risk, and, globally, Black people, Latinos and Asians are at higher risk.

Jacob said, “I definitely hope by raising awareness by having our patients share their stories by us talking about it, that we can build empathy for this population.”