Pediatric Sickle Cell Disease Program

Pediatric Sickle Cell Disease Program

One of the nation's largest and most distinguished programs for treating children with sickle cell disease.

Each year, our staff cares for more than 700 children with the various forms of sickle cell disease, often with the very treatments our researchers developed. The program focuses on the prevention of disease complications and management using the newest treatment strategies, including hydroxyurea, chronic transfusions, stem cell (bone marrow) transplantation and state-of-the-art approaches to infection prevention, pain management and treatment of specific organ-related complications (chest syndrome, priapism, avascular necrosis of the femoral head, etc.).

Treatments and Services

Comprehensive Care

The extensive experience of our providers enables Children’s Health to offer exceptional care to sickle cell patients with a range of symptoms at all stages of their treatment. Highlights include:

  • Specialized Neurology Care: Neurological complications are common in sickle cell patients, particularly stroke and headache. Michael Dowling, M.D., Ph.D., M.S.C.S., is one of a handful of pediatric neurologists in the world dedicated to both the care and research of neurologic disease in sickle cell patients. Because of his collaboration, we can offer Transcranial Doppler (TCD) testing in our clinic as a part of our comprehensive visits. 
  • Chronic Transfusion: Proven to help prevent stroke in sickle cell patients, transfusions are a critical element of our overall program. Nurses and nurse practitioners are dedicated to this area, which manages transfusions for more than 90 children. Our transfusion program avoids Port-a-Cath placement in most patients. We are experienced with all available iron overload medication options and offer the erythrocytapheresis procedure, a specialized transfusion technique that prevents iron overload. 
  • Transition to Adult Care: A hematologist in the Department of Medicine at UT Southwestern, manages a transition program that prepares our patients for the complex adult medical system. This unique resource allows teenage patients to develop a relationship with the same physician who will care for them after transition. 
  • Bone Marrow Transplant: Bone marrow transplant is increasing as a treatment strategy for sickle cell patients in our program over the past few years. This specialized treatment is the only available cure for sickle cell disease.

Leaders in Research

From its earliest days, the pediatric sickle cell program at Children’s Health has aggressively pursued development of new treatment approaches. Hematologists on staff have spearheaded the use of treatments that are regularly applied today, resulting in the creation of a comprehensive set of diagnostic and management guidelines for children with sickle cell disease that have been endorsed by the Texas Department of Health. One innovative treatment currently being studied is molecular targeted treatment for pain control in sickle cell disease. Learn about the Gill Center's research programs.

Around the country, hematologists rely on data from the Dallas Newborn Cohort, a cohort of children with sickle cell disease cared for here since 1983. Providing comprehensive care for these children has allowed us to identify the medical problems that they face as they become young adults.

Meet the Care Team