Local group advocates for helping victims with sickle cell disease

Local group advocates for helping victims with sickle cell disease »Play Video
Hina Patel, front left, is seen in a photo provided by her family. Hina was 19 when she died in May 2010 of complications from sickle cell disease.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Until her grandson was born, Laura Grant-Hattix was uninformed about a disease he had inherited.

"I never knew anything about sickle cell disease," said Grant-Hattix.

She quickly learned and found out that her son and his wife were both carriers of the disease and had passed it on to their son, Prince Mack.

And, she learned first-hand the physical and emotional toll it would take on her grandson. When Prince was less than 2 years old, he developed hand and foot syndrome. Both his hands and feet swelled so profusely that Prince could not walk.

"Everything was just so much swollen, he was screaming and crying, he was in so much pain," said Grant-Hattix.

Sickle cell disease is a group of blood disorders that affects hemoglobin, the molecule in red blood cells that delivers oxygen to cells throughout the body.

Prince was born with the most severe type. And, doctors didn't give the boy a chance of making it past his fifth birthday. Prince is now 9 years old and a third-grade student at Veterans Elementary School.

But, continued bouts with the disease has taken a toll. He suffers from severe migraines to the point it affects his vision. And, frequently, Grant-Hattix said she must take Prince out of Kern County to seek treatment, as resources in Kern County are limited.

"People who are suffering from sickle cell disease, their symptoms and pain is not well understood in our medical community," said Bhavana Patel.

She is director of the Hina Patel Sickle Cell Foundation in Bakersfield. The group provides support for people with sickle cell disease.

Patel founded the group after losing her daughter Hina - a victim of sickle cell when she was 19-years-old.

Patel's group will be holding an educational seminar on sickle cell disease for health care providers. It will be held Saturday at CBCC Community Wellness Room, 6501 Truxtun Ave., and runs from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

It is free and open to the public.