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Comprehensive Center for Sickle Cell Disease

UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland offers the largest and most comprehensive Sickle Cell Program in the Western United States. Our pediatric specialists provide diagnosis, treatment, and long-term health management for children and young adults with sickle cell disease of all types. Our clinicians will work with you and your child to develop a comprehensive treatment plan and strategies to minimize your child’s symptoms and avoid complications of the disease. Children's Comprehensive Sickle Cell Disease Center has been providing the highest standards of care in this field since 1973. In addition to treating those with sickle cell disease, we also research cures and treatments for sickle cell complications, offering the best opportunities for survival and preservation of quality of life for the whole family.

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Why Families Choose Us

Inpatient and Outpatient Sickle Cell Program

  • The Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland has both inpatient and outpatient services as well as specialty services for infants, children, adolescents, and adults with sickle cell disease. Our specialists include hematologists, pediatricians, internists, nurse practitioners, genetic counselors, social workers, and psychologists.  
  • Pediatric inpatient services include care for all complications of sickle cell disease on the hematology unit as well as the intensive care unit for life-threatening complications. Our inpatient service includes a center of excellence blood and marrow transplant service that provides for a cure of sickle cell disease to qualified patients.
  • Outpatient services include comprehensive pediatric care with a focus on sickle cell disease through the lifespan. 
    • Our 20-bed day hospital provides transfusion services including automated exchange transfusion, pain management and rooms for the evaluation of patients following bone marrow transplant. 
    • Our inpatient hospital unit has 25 beds for infancy through age 21 with a state-of-the-art bone marrow transplant unit that features private, filtered-air negative pressure isolation rooms.
  • The center also provides:
    • Screening and treatment for stroke risk with transcranial Doppler and a transfusion service that includes red cell exchange transfusion
    • Screening and treatment for pulmonary disease (in conjunction with our pulmonary specialist)
    • Diagnosis and treatment for complications of neurovascular disease (in conjunction with our neurosurgical service)
    • Diagnosis and treatment for avascular necrosis of joints (in conjunction with our rehabilitation medicine and orthopedic services)
    • Screening and treatment of pulmonary hypertension (in conjunction with our cardiology services)
  • The hospital has state-of-the-art radiology department with expertise in sickle cell imaging of the central nervous system and other organs.
  • Our psychosocial team assists individuals and families in advocating for services to ensure that schools and employers consider any special needs that people with sickle cell disease might have. We assist individuals with sickle cell disease and their families in identifying resources so that the maintain good quality of life and are productive as members of their schools, workplaces, and communities. 
  • The Sickle Cell Center is a leader in research for sickle cell disease therapies, innovation in the care of patients with sickle cell disease, and in transplant medicine.

Find more information about sickles cell disease and the sickle cell trait at: www.CASickleCell.org

Advancing Sickle Cell Research

Find more information about research in hemoglobinopathies at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute: www.chori.org/Centers/Sickle/Sickle_Main.html

Medical Therapy and Screening

Hydroxyurea the first successful medical therapy for sickle cell disease is offered to children as young as one year and into adulthood, to patients who are evaluated as potentially benefiting from this therapy.

Transcranial Doppler

Stroke is a severe complication of sickle cell disease. Transcranial Doppler screening is begun between the ages of two and three years and conducted annually until the age of eighteen years.

Echocardiogram

Pulmonary hypertension can be a complication of sickle cell disease. Echocardiograms are used for screening beginning at the age of ten years and are conducted annually or every two years depending on the results of screening.

Pulmonary Function Testing

Asthma frequently occurs in patients with sickle cell disease. Screening occurs in the preschool years while formal pulmonary function testing begins in school-age children.

Transfusion Therapy and Iron Overload

Management Blood transfusion by automated exchange (erythrocytapheresis) is performed for patients to prevent iron overload and to control or prevent complications of sickle cell disease. Exchange transfusion can be performed on children as young as five years. For patients who do not qualify for exchange transfusion, simple transfusions are used to control or prevent complications of sickle cell disease.

Iron Measurement and Chelation

Iron accumulation is followed in all patients on transfusion using laboratory testing and ferritometry (SQUID). Our program is one of two locations in North America where this noninvasive method to measure iron accumulation is available. For patients who have severe iron accumulation T2 cardiac MRI is used to measure cardiac iron. Iron overload is managed either with oral or intravenous iron chelators.

Bone Marrow Transplant

Some children with the sickle cell disease are cured with bone marrow transplantation. Our center is an internationally recognized center of excellence in the transplantation of children with sickle cell disease. Our transplant program is a part of national trials working to optimize success and minimize complications of transplantation for sickle cell disease.

Improving Success at School and Work

Our psychosocial team assists individuals and families in advocating for needed services to ensure that schools and employers consider any special needs that people with sickle cell disease might have. Children and adults with sickle cell disease may be at risk for problems with learning, memory, and planning. Academic achievement should be closely monitored to ensure that any special learning needs are met. Children with sickle cell disease are eligible, at minimum, for such special accommodations as having increased access to water and the bathroom. Employers should not discriminate against people with sickle cell disease. Our team can assist by educating employers about sickle cell disease and strategies for providing reasonable accommodations so that individuals with sickle cell disease can be productive members of the workplace.

Additional Information