I had the pleasure of speaking at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center on Monday, September 27th, regarding the affects of having Sickle Cell Trait and being an Athlete. I was able to share my experience as a High School, College and Professional Athlete living with the Sickle Cell Trait. It was a very informative session and I learned a lot from the other speakers on the panel. They were Doctors whom share my concern for the High School Athletes, for which there is currently no testing in place. High School Athletes are often pushed to the point of physical distress, which can lead to sudden death for an Athlete with the Sickle Cell Trait.
The average High School Athlete, Coach, and Training Staff does not have a clue about the danger that an Athlete faces who has the Sickle Cell Trait. I attended one of the Top High School programs in the Country and I was never tested or even heard Sickle Cell Trait mentioned as a health risk. I lived and played High School and College football in the South, where the temperature on practice days would well exceed 95 degrees and most days climbed into the 100‘s. These High Temperatures put the Athlete with Sickle Cell Trait at an even greater risk. I was not tested until I went to College and precautions were taken to make sure I did not overexert myself or become dehydrated. I was blessed to not suffer any side affects or have any health related issues due to the Sickle Cell Trait. I would urge parents, friends, and extended families of all Athletes participating in any Sports or working out at a high level to have their Athlete tested.
Sickle cell diseases occur in high frequency among people of African-American, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Central and South American and Asian Indian origin or descent. My short term goal is to continue sharing my experience with others and spreading the word about safe practices for preventing strenuous exercise and heat related illness or sudden death due to Sickle Cell Trait. My long term goal is to form a Foundation to address mandatory Testing for Sickle Cell Trait as a part of the medical evaluation for participation in all Sports. Testing, together with education for Coaches, Trainers, Athletes and Parents, I believe will help to eliminate the loss of Athletes due to Sickle Cell Trait.