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Upstate cares for Central New Yorkers with sickle cell disease

When Sharon Bauer began her nursing career more than 20 years ago, people with sickle cell disease often did not live past their 20s. Now, Bauer says it's not unusual for people with sickle cell disease to live past 50 -- provided they live a healthy lifestyle.

Bauer is the nurse manager in Upstate's Center for Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders. She is a guest at 9 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 30 on Health Link on Air on Newsradio 106.9 570 WSYR. All babies born in America are screened for sickle cell, which affects mostly African Americans and people of Mediterranean descent. From 70,000 to 100,000 Americans have the disease, and 3 million have the genetic trait. Those who live in Central New York most likely come to Upstate for their care, Bauer says.

Red blood cells in people with sickle cell disease are unable to carry adequate oxygen. They are more stiff and more sticky than healthy red blood cells, meaning they can clog blood vessels, reduce blood flow and cause tissue death. This can be very painful and lead to infection. Anemia, a shortage of red blood cells, may also develop.

Bauer speaks about common therapies for sickle cell, along with complications.

Hear Bauer's interview.

Learn about sickle cell from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.