AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – With Sickle Cell Awareness Month beginning this month, AU Health and the Center for Blood Disorder honor patients and their families.

“I was pregnant and I lost the baby because I went into a Sickle Cell crisis and they didn’t know what to do, so I was sterilized.”

The “Forever In Our Hearts” event is a moment for families and staff at the blood center to share their experiences while spreading the message of Sickle Cell. 

“When dealing with someone with Sickle Cell, you gotta put away your selfishness, you got to be there to help them in times of need,” family of patient Marion Brisco said.

Pinwheels and bubbles were used to represent the patients who lost their battle against the disease. 

Sickle Cell Disease causes patients’ red blood cells to be hard and sticky, and they star to look like a sickle. These cells die early – causing a shortage of red blood cells.

“So we have the pinwheels because we want to place them in our garden or you’re welcome to take them home with you, we ask that you place them in memory of your family member, of your loved one, of your friends,” Center for Blood Disorder staff member said.

Some families have come from different parts of Georgia just to be treated at the center– they say everyone there feels like extended family. 

“We came from Atlanta with all those sophisticated doctors who didn’t know what to do with her. I got my wife back 12 years ago,” family of patient said.

Physician’s Assistant Giovanni Carter says that while Sickle Cell is normally detected at birth, there are cases that may go further.

“Every once in a while you’ll find one where they have Sickle Cell trait or other form of Sickle Cell disease, things like low hemoglobin, pain that’s just not resolving, that kind of thing.”

But, staff says that Sickle Cell is not the only thing the center caters to.

“We’re looking at the whole body, so we’re managing them as a whole,” Carter said.