Full Frame: Thomas Hofstra on silent killer sickle cell disease

Full Frame

Dr. Thomas Hofstra discusses what’s new in the battle against this chronic blood disorder. Dr. Thomas Hofstra discusses what’s new in the battle against this chronic blood disorder.

Sickle cell disease is a global public health issue affecting millions of people throughout the world.  The inherited disorder impacts the bloods ability to deliver oxygen throughout the body.

Thomas Hofstra is a Pediatric Hematologist affiliated with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.  He says, globally, the disease often kills patients under the age of five.

“If you go to other areas of the world, like sub Saharan Africa and parts of the Middle East 50% of the children with sickle cell disease, or even 90% in rural areas, die before their fifth birthday,” said Dr. Hofstra.

Full Frame: Thomas Hofstra on silent killer sickle cell disease

Full Frame: Thomas Hofstra on silent killer sickle cell disease

Sickle cell disease is a global public health issue affecting millions of people throughout the world. Thomas Hofstra is a Pediatric Hematologist affiliated with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. He says, globally, the disease often kills patients under the age of five. The inherited disorder impacts the bloods ability to deliver oxygen throughout the body.

In the United States, it’s the most common inherited blood disorder, one in 400 infants, of African ancestry, is born affected.  The World Health Organization estimates that roughly 5% of the world’s population carries a trait gene for blood disorders, mainly sickle cell disease.  The percentage of people who are carriers of the gene is as high as 25% in some regions.

The condition often leads to severe and chronic pain attacks, bacterial infections, blood transfusions, strokes and sometimes death.  But with new treatments, life expectancy for these patients can reach 50 years, sometimes longer. 

“We are going to have a cure for sickle cell disease in the patient’s lifetimes that I’m taking care of right now,” declared Dr. Hofstra.

There are 12 NIH-funded sickle cell disease research centers in the U.S. and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is one of them.  

Physician Thomas Hofstra joined Mike Walter in our Los Angeles studio to discuss what’s new in the battle against this chronic blood disorder.