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Rady Children's Specialists

Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center

Selina, featured in the 2012 issue of Kids’ NewsDay, doesn’t let sickle cell disease stop her from living her dreams. Catch up with Selina.

The Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center, under the direction of Jenny Kim, M.D., provides care to approximately 120 children with sickle cell disease in San Diego and the surrounding areas. We also provide education and psychosocial support to patients and families, and participate in research on promising treatments.

Our multidisciplinary team includes two board-certified pediatric hematologists, a pediatric hematology nurse practitioner, a sickle cell nurse coordinator, two social workers, a dietitian and a psychologist. The team works closely with our Integrative Medicine Program, which provides therapies including acupuncture, acupressure, massage and healing touch, as well as with our Acute Pain Service and Chronic Pain Program.

The Center’s comprehensive care approach is based on national practice guidelines from the National Institutes of Health/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, as well as those from the Sickle Cell Disease Care Consortium and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Medical Advances and Care

Immunizations, pneumococcal prophylaxis with penicillin, and patient and family education about early intervention has significantly improved survival rates for sickle cell patients. Hydroxyurea, a drug used to reduce sickle cell complications by increasing fetal hemoglobin, has dramatically improved the quality of life for patients with frequent painful episodes and acute chest syndrome.

Routine transcranial Doppler ultrasound of major arteries supplying the brain has detected critical blood vessel narrowing in patients at higher risk of stroke, enabling our team members to prevent stroke through a transfusion program.


The Center was involved in a clinical trial of a new oral iron chelator, for use in patients with chronic iron overload as a result of frequent blood transfusions. We will continue to pursue new clinical trials in conjunction with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the University of California, San Diego. The Center also works closely with the San Diego chapter of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America on community outreach, education and advocacy.

Video: Dr. Jenny Kim discusses sickle cell disease