New bill would launch education campaign

LANSING, Mich. — Today, Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D–Flint) introduced legislation to initiate a statewide campaign to inform Michiganians about sickle cell disease. The program would educate residents about treatment options and state resources available to those with the condition – all of which could be lifesaving to the 2,800 people in Michigan with the disease and the 140,000 who carry the genetic trait.

“You don’t hear too much discussion about sickle cell and many think that it is a rare disease, but the fact of the matter is that thousands across our state are affected and they need to know that we have resources to help,” said Sen. Ananich.

Sickle cell disease is among the most common genetic disorders in the United States. It is an inherited lifelong condition in which the body makes an altered form of hemoglobin, resulting in abnormal, crescent-shaped red blood cells. The side effects include shortened life expectancy, strokes, chronic pain episodes, organ damage, vision loss and infections.

Sickle cell disease disproportionately affects people of African descent – one in 12 African-Americans carry the sickle cell trait – but people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds can inherit the condition.

“Our goal is to make sure every person in the state knows how to identify symptoms, and how to get assistance should they or their children have the disease,” said Sen. Ananich. “No one should suffer in pain, especially when we have tools at our disposal to increase quality of life for those with the condition.”

Since Sen. Ananich first took office as a Representative, he’s been pushing for the creation of a Sickle Cell Disease Awareness campaign, and he has introduced similar legislation each term. He hopes the bill – Senate Bill 617 – will receive bipartisan support and swift passage.

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