Honoring the Legacy of Dr. Roland Scott
During Black History Month, Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is honoring Dr. Roland Scott and his work with sickle cell disease—a disease that disproportionately impacts the African American community. I learned so much about sickle cell disease during Sickle Cell Awareness Month last September. I spoke to a few recipients and brought you their stories on what it’s like to have sickle cell disease.
Before we dive into who Dr. Scott is and his contributions, let’s first talk a little about sickle cell disease. More than 100,000 Americans have it. The disease impacts the African American and Hispanic populations the most. Sickle cell disease causes red blood cells to harden and turn into a crescent shape like a “C”. The cells die quickly, causing a shortage of red blood cells. I spoke with Kisa, a sickle cell patient living in the Houston area, and she said folks like her could function day to day and look just fine, but what you can’t see is the pain that happens inside the body every day. Other sickle cell patients described the pain as if pieces of glass were going through their veins. Unfortunately, there isn’t really a cure. Blood transfusions and medications can help reduce complications of sickle cell patients. But we can thank Dr. Scott for securing more sickle cell disease research funding from the federal government.
Dr. Scott was born in Houston in 1909. He became a chairman of pediatrics at Howard University in Washington from 1949 to 1973. He was an advocate for his patients affected by sickle cell disease during a time of segregation and constant discrimination against African Americans. He was trained as an allergist but focused his attention on African American children coming into the ER with complications from sickle cell disease. Dr. Scott completed groundbreaking research and wrote hundreds of articles on the disease. His work played a significant role in passing the Sickle Cell Anemia Control Act of 1971. This allowed the federal government to give funding for research and treatment for the disease. It’s no wonder Dr. Scott is known as the “Father of Sickle Cell Disease”! Because of Dr. Scott and his work, millions of dollars from the government are going towards funding research, and one day, a cure can hopefully be found for this horrible disease.
Dr. Scott died in 2002 at 93. Let’s honor his legacy by giving blood during Black History Month. People with sickle cell disease need blood transfusions as part of their treatment. Schedule an appointment to give blood today!
About the Author
Michael is the Communication Coordinator at Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center and is passionate about storytelling. He uses his writing skills to spread the word about our life-saving work. Whether he is developing content for the blog, website, newsletters, or other communications materials, he is continually working to raise awareness about the importance of blood donations and engage our donors, volunteers, and the general public.