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Health Fair: July 2011

Manchester Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Centre is holding a health fair to improve understanding of sickle cell and thalassaemia, as part of National Sickle Cell Awareness Month. The event is open to everyone and entry is free, you may even get the chance to rub shoulders with our mystery celebrity guest!

The event will feature a health expo on how to feel better and live longer, through eight illustrated exhibits beautifully displayed in art and action.  Interactive stalls, artistic performances, juicing, cookery demonstrations and health demonstrations.

Date:       22nd July 2011

Time:      12:30 - 4:30 pm

Address:

Manchester Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Centre

352 Oxford Road (Entrance on Denmark Road)

Manchester

M13 9NL

 

Please click here for the event flier


About the disorders

Sickle Cell Disease consists of a range of conditions - some more serious than others. The most serious form is sickle cell anaemia but there are other forms of the condition such as sickle haemoglobin C disease and sickle beta thalassaemia.  

The conditions affect the normal oxygen carrying capacity of red blood cells.  The symptoms can include severe anaemia, intense pain, damage to major organs and infections.  Although there is no routine cure for sickle cell, patients can be supported to manage their pain, and regular monitoring can help to avoid life threatening complications such as stroke.  In England, sickle cell affects an estimated 14,500 people with an estimated 240,000 carriers.

In beta thalassaemia major, the most severe form of thalassaemia, the body is unable to produce haemoglobin - the element in blood that transports oxygen. Patients therefore need regular blood transfusions throughout their lives. They also need daily treatment to deal with the iron overload that builds up in their body. Complications include diabetes, growth problems, and problems with puberty or early menopause.

In England, around 750 people are affected by thalassaemia major with an estimated 214,000 carriers.  Bone marrow transplantation may be a treatment option for some people affected by sickle cell and thalassaemia. 

Sickle cell and thalassaemia are among the world's most commonly inherited genetic diseases.  In England sickle cell disease is as common as cystic fibrosis. 

Manchester Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Centre

The centre currently treats 700 patients with the disease.

The Centre works with the national commissioning framework in the development of managed clinical care networks and support of those affected by sickle cell and thalassaemia.  Managed care is not only important in relieving suffering, but also cost effective in reducing the cost of specialist interventions. Many of the strategies planned will help families to spot warning signs and take early action. This, in turn, will reduce complications that are more expensive for the NHS in the longer term. 

Screening

The aims of the screening programme are to:

  • Save lives through prompt identification of affected babies
  • Offer informed choice to couples expecting a baby
  • Work towards offering testing to young people before they start a family
  • Support the development of a managed clinical care network such that people have fair access to quality services throughout England
  • Raise public awareness of the disorders and challenge stigma
  • Lifelong support for those affected with the disorder

Newborn screening for sickle cell disease is offered to all babies in England and is integrated into the standard bloodspot or 'heel prick' test.  Screening identifies approximately 350 babies a year who would be at higher risk of death unless penicillin is administered promptly.

At the antenatal stage, a screening blood test identifies pregnant women who carry a gene for sickle cell, thalassaemia or other haemoglobin variants.  Where a woman is a genetic carrier, the baby's father is also offered testing. If both parents are carriers, there is a 1 in 4 chance with each pregnancy that the baby will have a disorder. At risk couples are offered a range of counselling and diagnostic tests for the baby.

Antenatal screening has been rolled out in most high prevalence areas and the target is to achieve coverage throughout England in 2008. In low prevalence areas, a questionnaire looking at family origin is used as an initial screen to assess risk for sickle cell and other haemoglobin variants.