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Managing sickle cell during childhood at Odessa Brown Children's Clinic

Odessa Brown Children's Clinic is a leader in treating sickle cell anemia as well as chronic health conditions like asthma and obesity.

SEATTLE — When you meet Saleea Rose Cornelius, you will see a typical 12-year-old with big dreams and a positive outlook-- not the disease that shapes her life.

Saleea has been receiving treatment for sickle cell anemia since she was an infant at Odessa Brown Children's Clinic

Sickle cell is an inherited red blood cell disorder. It's a chronic disease and more common among certain ethnic groups. Patients can suffer excruciating pain, serious infections, daily medication and a lifetime of treatment.

"I felt very hopeless," said Demont Cornelius, Saleea's father. "Seeing my daughter get her first blood transfusion, and seeing her in pain."

"What happens is, under certain kinds of stress, the blood cells change shape and can stop blood flow,” said OBCC Director Dr. Michael Bender. “And that stopping the blood flow can happen in any part of the body." 

At the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic, where 140 sickle cell kids get treatment, education and wrap around care is the key to helping patients and families manage the disease. 

"It's learning about how to prevent pain, how to deal with pain, what other things to look out for, fever, stroke, lung problems, it's bringing in nursing, social work, it's working with the schools,” said Dr. Bender. “It's looking at all aspects of life and how do you optimize them to avoid problems."

That's why hour-long patient appointments are the norm here and parents are given plenty of time to talk about concerns.

Dr. Bender and his team are available 24/7 for patients and their families.

"I can't imagine without Odessa Brown, we just need them,” said Saleea's father.

"Families know they can call at any hour, we will listen, we'll trust them, they know we're there for them, which makes them feel more comfortable as they are going through this," said Dr. Bender.

You can help support the mission of the Odessa Brown Children's Clinic. 

Watch Growing Wellness: An Odessa Brown Children's Clinic and Seattle Children's Special, Thu, Mar. 7th from 7-8 PM on KING and KONG, or make a donation online today.

This story is sponsored by Seattle Children's.