Sickle Cell Disease Awareness month: BR nurse practitioner shares advocacy

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BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD)- September is Sickle Cell Disease Awareness month and one local nurse practitioner is sharing her story about the trials she’s faced during these unprecedented times.

Lakesha Thomas is on the frontlines daily working as a nurse practitioner in a local clinic.

“You are tired all the time,” Thomas said. “You are just draggy, some days are just better than others.”

Sickle cell disease is a lifelong inherited blood disorder that affects the molecule in red blood cells that delivers oxygen to cells throughout the body. The red blood cells for SCD are formed in a crescent shape rather than a round. Blood cells can clump together which can lead to pain, kidney disease, organ damage and more.

The disease is highly prominent in African American communities. Lakesha is one out of around 5,400 people living with SCD in Louisiana.

“It is really prevalent is low socio-economic communities, those are patients who are un-insured or under insured. So it makes it very difficult to get care just because of the population it effects,” said Lakesha.

The Center of Disease Control says those with SCD are at a higher risk of getting sick with the coronavirus.

“My anxiety has been high since COVID has come out. I am a little nervous about getting COVID, but I am taking every pre caution, I’m wearing my mask, I’m hand washing, says Lakesha.

Thomas says she chose to pursue nursing when she was in and out the hospital battling SCD.

“It does increase my anxiety a little bit but I am here to serve my patients.”

90,000 to 100,000 Americans are diagnosed with SCD, according to the CDC.

More information SCD from the CDC can be found here.

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