Sickle cell disease

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Treatment Options

Sickle cell disease treatments relieve pain symptoms and help prevent infections, lung damage, and strokes. The only cure for sickle cell disease is bone marrow transplantation.

Treatment may be given for complications from sickle cell disease and may include antibiotics, pain medications, intravenous fluids, and blood transfusions, which help with pain management and reduces the risk of stroke and other complications.

Iron overload (having an excess of iron) is a common issue after repeated blood transfusions. Too much iron can be toxic to the body and lead to organ damage. Sickle cell disease patients often receive treatment for iron overload as well. 

Bone Marrow Transplantation for Sickle Cell Disease

  • Transplantation can be a cure for sickle cell disease.  This eliminates sickle cell pain and prevents sickle cell damage to lungs, the brain, and joints.
  • During a bone marrow transplant, abnormal blood-making cells in the bone marrow are replaced with a donor’s normal bone marrow.  
  • Transplants can have serious risks and may not be an option for everyone.
  • Transplants are safer and more successful if the donor is a “matched” brother or sister.
  • Transplant methods are improving—for example allowing the use of unrelated donors or in some cases donors who are less than perfect matches.  
  • More children and young adults with sickle cell disease are now having transplants.

Read Transplantation for Sickle Cell Disease Questions & Answers.

Read more about bone marrow transplantation.

New Treatment Research

In 2007 two Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center researchers received a $23.7 million grant (awarded to Seattle Children's Hospital Research Institute) to support the Northwest Genome Engineering Consortium from the National Institutes of Health that will fund the development of new methods for gene repair thought to be helpful in treating diseases like sickle cell disease. Read more about this grant.

Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic, a community clinic of Seattle Children’s, and Seattle Children’s, a Seattle Cancer Care Alliance parent organization, treats children with Sickle cell disease. Your child’s doctor and health-care team will recommend a treatment plan for your child based on your child’s age and other aspects of your child’s health.


Transplantation for Sickle Cell Disease Q & A

Questions and answers about bone marrow transplant therapy for sickle cell disease.