Sickle Cell Center

The Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has two components — clinical care and research.

Clinical care

Children with sickle cell disease receive routine care in the Hematology Outpatient Clinic on the 3rd floor of the Buerger Center for Advanced Pediatric Care on the Raymond G. Perelman Campus and in specialty care centers in the CHOP Care Network.

The clinics are staffed by a multidisciplinary team of board-certified pediatric hematologists, hematology nurse-specialists, social workers, psychologists and child life specialists. Each child is assigned a physician who manages their outpatient care. Patient and family education is provided at the time of diagnosis and is incorporated into all clinic visits as part of comprehensive care. 

Parents and patients can reach a hematologist 24-hours a day. Parents, caregivers and older patients should call whenever patients are ill so that they can be directed to an appropriate site for treatment.

For acute illness, children may be brought the Hematology Acute Care Unit or the Emergency Department.

Outpatient and inpatient specialty services

Sickle cell disease is a complicated condition with various manifestations. A broad range of specialty services are required to meet the needs of children with the disease. Our children have access to pediatric general surgeons, orthopedists, ophthalmologists and pulmonologists with expertise in the care of children with sickle cell disease. All work closely with the Sickle Cell Center team.

  • Transfusion services. Chronic blood transfusions are provided to prevent recurrence of stroke in a child who has already experienced stroke or to avoid stroke in a child who has been determined to be at risk for stroke.
  • Hematology Acute Care Unit. The Sickle Cell Center's Hematology Acute Care Unit (HACU) provides rapid evaluation and treatment for children with blood diseases. The medical team sees patients with acute illness right away so they can start treatment quickly.
  • Newborn screening and genetic counseling. The Sickle Cell Center provides confirmatory testing of newborns identified by Pennsylvania Newborn Screening Program for sickle cell disease, genetic counseling, and treatment following diagnosis.
  • Pulmonary care. Asthma is common in children with sickle cell disease and the control of asthma may decrease the risk of pulmonary complications. Upper airway symptoms, such as snoring, are also common and specialists in sleep disorders address such issues. Attention to these symptoms may decrease the incidence of acute chest syndrome.
  • Cerebrovascular care. Members of the stroke team work closely with the sickle cell team to provide comprehensive care to our sickle cell children who are at risk for or have experienced cerebrovascular complications, including stroke.
  • Imaging. Access to state-of-the-art imaging techniques plays a major role in the care of children with sickle cell disease. Services include transcranial Doppler studies for stroke prevention, abdominal ultrasound for gallstones, imaging of the bones and joints to evaluate avascular necrosis, and imaging of the brain for detection of silent or overt stroke, and narrowed blood vessels. Imaging techniques are also used to identify chronic organ damage from red cell sickling.
  • Psychosocial services. Social workers, psychologists, education coordinators, child life specialists and community health workers at the Sickle Cell Center provide a wide range of psychosocial services to help children and families cope with chronic illness.
    • Social workers assist with a range of concerns that can affect school, employment, financial issues and more.
    • Psychologists provide mental health consultations and coordinate referrals with specialists at CHOP and within your community.
    • Education coordinators support academic goals by advocating for educational needs throughout both inpatient & outpatient treatment.
    • Child life specialists minimize the stressful aspects that illness, injury and the healthcare setting have on a patient and family.
    • Community health workers support healthcare navigation and access to community resources.

Our research

The Division of Hematology, to which the Sickle Cell Center belongs, has pioneered research in diagnosis, treatment and prevention of stroke in children with sickle cell disease.

The Center participates in research studies funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as well as pharmaceutical companies, non-governmental funding agencies, corporations, community organizations and individuals. Some of these studies are performed in collaboration with other Departments/Divisions including Pulmonary Medicine, Radiology and the Emergency Department.