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Sickle Cell Disease Treatment Program

St. Jude has one of the largest pediatric sickle cell disease (SCD) programs in the country. We treat children with SCD from birth through 18 years.

Doctor checking heart rate of patient in hospital bed

Sickle cell disease treatment at St. Jude

St. Jude has a deep and long-standing commitment to children with sickle cell disease. Our scientists and medical team have been researching sickle cell disease and caring for patients with this disease since the hospital opened in 1962. From exceptional patient care to innovative research, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is one of the nation's leading centers for sickle cell disease.

Sickle cell disease clinical trials

St. Jude is the primary treatment center for children with sickle cell disease in the Memphis area. We also consider referrals of children who are eligible for an open St. Jude clinical research trial for stem cell (bone marrow) transplant or gene therapy.

St. Jude offers clinical trials and research studies for children, teens, and young adults for sickle cell disease. Learn more about clinical research at St. Jude.

View all sickle cell disease clinical trials.

Why St. Jude for sickle cell disease treatment?

St. Jude provides outstanding treatment and educational resources to help patients with sickle cell and other blood disorders live long, happy, and healthy lives.

  • The first research grant ever received by the hospital was for the study of sickle cell disease. Since that time, St. Jude has been involved in many research studies that have had a major impact on the treatment of the disease.
  • In 1983, a St. Jude patient was the first person in the world to be cured of sickle cell disease through a stem cell (bone marrow) transplant. Today, many people throughout the world have gone through this therapy and no longer suffer with sickle cell disease. A transplant is a potential cure, but it is not an easy one. Patients can have many complications after a transplant. That is why St. Jude continues to research cures for sickle cell disease.
  • St. Jude has several labs that perform innovative research in sickle cell disease and other blood disorders. Some St. Jude scientists conduct basic research. Others work on translational research that bridges the gap between the lab and bedside care.
  • St. Jude has taken part in and led several clinical trials studying the use of hydroxyurea in children with sickle cell disease. This ongoing research includes work to determine the drug’s impact on protecting organs against damage from the disease. Hydroxyurea boosts the level of fetal hemoglobin in the body. It helps red blood cells stay round and flexible, so they can travel more easily through the tiny blood vessels. It may also prevent or slow down damage to the spleen, kidneys, lungs, and brain. Studies have shown that patients with higher levels of fetal hemoglobin tend to have fewer symptoms of sickle cell disease.
  • St. Jude also has clinical trials for newer medicines such as voxelotor. Other treatments for sickle cell disease include Endari and crizanlizumab.
  • St. Jude researchers study gene therapy as a potential cure for sickle cell disease. It adds a new gene or replaces a mutated (changed) gene to help prevent or treat disease.
  • St. Jude has a stroke prevention program that identifies patients at high risk for stroke. These patients get blood transfusions to decrease the chances of stroke.
  • The nurse-to-patient ratio at St. Jude is unmatched — averaging 1:3 in hematology and 1:1 in the Intensive Care Unit.
  • Sickle cell disease care at St. Jude is geared toward finding cures, preventing illness, and improving overall health for patients. Regular sickle cell treatments help decrease the number of:
    • Pain episodes
    • Acute chest syndrome episodes
    • Blood transfusions
    • Emergency visits and hospital stays

Preparing patients for adult life with sickle cell disease

From ages 12–18, St. Jude sickle cell patients take part in an education program that helps them move to adult care when they turn 18.

Treatment testimonials

Leah hasn’t had any hospitalizations in almost two years. I just love the treatment she receives at St. Jude.

- Temaiko, mother of Leah, sickle cell patient

Living with Sickle Cell Disease: Shaniya's story

Diagnosed with sickle cell disease, Shaniya came to St. Jude when she was 5 years old. Now 16, she strives to be a normal teenager who is not defined by her disease.

Teens with sickle cell face challenges when transitioning from teen to adult care. St. Jude is working to reverse that trend with education, research, and partnerships with adult care facilities.

A statue of children running and holding hands

Seeking treatment at St. Jude

Patients accepted to St. Jude must have a disease we treat and must be referred by a physician or other qualified medical professional. We accept most patients based on their ability to enroll in an open clinical trial.

How to seek treatment

Contact the Physician / Patient Referral Office

Call: 1-888-226-4343 (toll-free) or 901-595-4055 (local)  | Fax: 901-595-4011 | Email: | 24-hour pager: 1-800-349-4334


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