The Delaware State University (DSU) Health Fair was held on Tuesday, March 31, 2015 at the MLK Student Health Center. Tova Community Health was invited as a vendor at the fair. There were over 75 people who came by the booth inquiring about Sickle Cell Disease and Trait awareness. There was a 50 year old man with Bthal trait in the Military at the Dover Air Force that never understood why he could not run long-distances without tiring out.
I was able to explain to him that persons with Bthal trait carry a gene deletion in the protein molecule in the red blood cells. Therefore, his oxygen carrying capacity is reduced and his blood cells often are small and paler. Oftentimes these people get 'misdiagnosed' as being Iron Deficient but if not iron deficient their blood counts will not improve. I also shared with him that currently the U.S. Military does not allow persons with Sickle Cell Disease to serve our country.
I took care of a young healthy man with Sickle Cell Beta Thalassemia who tried to make through Navy basic training without medical military doctors aware of his medical condition. He was half-way through basic training and was "Honorably Discharged." That being said, perhaps there needs to be more awareness of how persons with Invisible Disabilities (Sickle Cell Anemia, Chron's Disease-which I blogged about in the Spring Newsletter) can still serve in the U.S. Military in jobs that may not require combat or high physical demand. Surely, this man was healthy and physically fit to serve our country in the US Navy from my stand point.
I want to thank the Student Health Center Director, Michelle Fisher, the Center for Health Promotion and the DSU students for allowing TOVA Community Health to attend a fantastic Health Fair. DSU supports TOVA's efforts to increase access to high quality care and research for persons living with this lethal medical condition. The future for Sickle Cell looks bright at DSU!
All the best,