Sickle Cell Disease Program

The Sickle Cell Disease Program is a nationally recognized center of excellence that provides comprehensive sickle cell disease care to manage the disease and prevent its complications. Our program includes:

  • Expert clinical care
  • Family support services
  • A cooperative blood donor program
  • Community outreach
  • Education
  • A wellness initiative
  • Research into the nature, causes and treatments of hemoglobin disorders

Our staff consists of full-time pediatric hematologists, nurse specialists/nurse practitioners, a genetic counselor and a social worker dedicated to the program. The program is led by Robert I. Liem, MD, Director of the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Program and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. Liem is board-certified in pediatric hematology/oncology and pediatrics.

The Lurie Children’s Difference

We work to improve the health and well-being of patients affected by sickle cell disease within a kid-friendly, family-focused environment. Our specialists are trained to treat children with sickle cell disease, meet their specific needs and counsel all family members on preventive treatment measures and serious complications.

The program offers transfusion services through a therapeutic day hospital, as well as routine screening by transcranial Doppler ultrasound to assess the risk of stroke. Our clinic, which includes specialized programs for newborns and children taking the drug hydroxyurea, is open four days a week.

What to Expect

Sickle cell disease has short- and long-term effects on virtually every organ system, including the brain, heart, lungs, spleen and eyes. Our program stresses preventative treatment to minimize serious complications when possible.

Early diagnosis and prevention of complications is extremely important for children with sickle cell disease. Treatment may include penicillin “prophylaxis,” pain medications, increased fluid intake, blood transfusions, hydroxyurea or stem cell transplant. Treatment varies with each child, and we collaborate with parents to develop the best plan for their children.

Support services are integral to our approach and we sponsor numerous programs, such as a parent to parent network, community education and outreach, annual social activities for patients and their families, scholastic achievement programs and a formal program for transitioning patients to adult care.

Conditions We Treat