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New sickle cell treatment given to first patients in England


Sickle cell patients have begun receiving the first new treatment for the blood disorder in over 20 years.

The inherited condition can cause severe pain and organ failure, often requiring hospital admissions.

Crizanlizumab is given as a monthly infusion and is thought to cut visits to A&E by 40%. Loury Mooruth, 62, received the treatment at Birmingham City Hospital, having suffered repeated periods of intense pain for decades.

During a crisis, patients often need powerful opioid painkillers but Loury, like many others, has faced suspicion when at A&E.

"You know the protocol when you go in, which needles and so on. They think straight away you are a drug addict - they don't believe you," she says.

She has refused to go to hospital during a crisis for the past two years because of her negative experiences.

A report from MPs last year found "serious failings" in sickle cell care with some evidence of discrimination against patients.

Dr Shivan Pancham, a consultant haematologist at Birmingham City Hospital, told the BBC: "Our patients often find the experience in emergency departments challenging with a lack of understanding of the severity of pain.

"It is hoped with these new therapies if we reduce the likelihood of attending emergency departments, ultimately this will be much better for the patients."

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Source: BBC News, 24 February 2022

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