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NY Region's Only Pediatric Sickle Cell Center Opens at the Children's Hospital at Montefiore

Renowned Expert Developing Unique Programs To Treat Children and Adolescents Living With Pain

NEW YORK CITY, NY  (April 12, 2005)  -- The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM) has established the New York metropolitan region’s only comprehensive pediatric center for the treatment of sickle cell disease, a hereditary, often-fatal blood disorder that strikes most often in African-American communities.

The new Comprehensive Pediatric Sickle Cell Center will be led by Catherine Driscoll, MD, a nationally recognized sickle cell expert who returns to Montefiore from Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC.   Over the past decade, Dr. Driscoll has conducted extensive research, funded by the National Institutes of Health, on sickle cell disease and another blood disorder, thalassemia.

Experts estimate that one of every 400 African-American children and one of every 1,250 Hispanic-American children are born with sickle cell disease, in which the red blood cells, normally disc-shaped, become crescent-shaped.  In many patients, the abnormal cells ‘close off’ blood vessels and give rise to recurrent, painful episodes called “sickle cell crises.”   The disease can also cause vulnerability to infections, organ damage and, in some cases, early death.

“Sickle cell disease is a life-changing disorder.  Sickle cell crises affect most organs in the body and eventually result in chronic organ damage leading to stroke, chronic lung or kidney disease,” said Dr. Driscoll.

“These painful crises can occur any time and can last from days to weeks.  They are often severe enough to require hospitalization,” said Dr. Driscoll.  “I came back to Montefiore because CHAM is one of the premier institutions in the US, and the only institution in the Greater New York region for the comprehensive care of children with sickle cell disease.”
“I think at CHAM we have what it takes to find new ways to treat patients living with this disease and to help them experience less pain and enjoy a better overall quality of life,” said Dr. Driscoll. 

Dr. Driscoll will develop comprehensive programs at CHAM to treat pediatric thrombosis (blood clots) and family-centered treatment plans to help sickle cell patients and families deal with the disease while living healthier, more normal lives.  The CHAM program will also focus on studying and treating susceptibility to stroke and pulmonary hypertension in children with sickle cell disease.

The team will work closely with the Adult Bronx Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center at Montefiore that, for over a decade, has been a national leader in research and treatment for adult patients with the disease.  

Montefiore Medical Center, The University Hospital and Academic Center for the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, ranks among the top one percent of all US hospitals based on its investments in medical innovations and cutting edge technology. Montefiore invests more in order to enable compassionate, personalized care and the most positive outcomes for patients and their families in New York, the tri-state area and beyond.

Montefiore’s unique combination of ‘state-of-the-art’ technology with ‘state-of-the-heart’ medical and nursing care in a teaching and research environment provides patients with access to world-class medical experts, the newest and most innovative treatments and the best medical center experience anywhere.

This 1,062 bed medical center includes the Henry and Lucy Moses Division, the Jack D. Weiler Hospital and the new Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, a large home healthcare agency and a 21-site medical group practice located throughout The Bronx and nearby Westchester.

Montefiore treats all major illnesses and has distinguished centers of excellence in cardiology and cardiac surgery, cancer care, tissue and organ transplantation, children’s health, women’s health, surgery, and the surgical sub-specialties. Montefiore Medical Center focuses on providing family-centered healthcare in a nurturing environment that extends well beyond hospital and clinic walls.