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Matt Wiebe, MLA Concordia
October 31, 2017

Sickle Cell Disease Awareness

Sickle-cell disease currently affects approximately 5,000 Canadians, 80 of which are pediatric patients in Manitoba. This inherited blood disorder causes red blood cells to have an abnormal form. Unable to transport oxygen and the ability to block blood flow, these cells can be damaging to the body`s organs and the results can be extremely painful. While a cure exists, it is high risk and can have complications.

Manitoba has been a leader in newborn screening; screening for some of the rarest diseases in Canada. But Manitoba is behind most other jurisdictions in Canada who are already screening for sickle-cell disease. Early detection is crucial to ensure infants receive medication and blood transfusions to prevent or reduce complications. Screening helps educate parents to better help their children, reducing hospital visits and the unknown.

Though all people can carry the gene, it is less likely in Caucasian populations. With a growing population of newcomers and no newborn screening, Manitoba could have a growing rate of sickle-cell disease, but no way of knowing. It is critical that Manitoba continues to modernize screening so those affected can live healthy, productive lives.

Today we are joined by Beverly Ndukwu and her family; a family that has faced both the lifelong challenges and the loss of Beverly’s younger sister Andrea, who passed away 10 years ago at the age 7 from sickle cell disease. Beverly continues to be affected by the disease and has become a strong advocate with the Sickle Cell Disease Association of Canada. We are also joined by Dr. Stoffman and Dr. Huston, who are medical professionals working out of Caner Care Manitoba with sickle-cell patients.

Dr. Stoffman and Beverly are passionate advocates; creating a sickle-cell peer support group which is an opportunity to interact with other people living with the disease. Together, they are continuously working to improve care for people living with the disease, increase awareness, and advocating for newborn screening.

Please join me in recognizing these dedicated advocates for their ongoing efforts in battling sickle-cell disease.

Thank you, Madam Speaker.