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WHEREAS, the health and safety of all Virginians is important to the happiness, prosperity, and well-being of our Commonwealth’s families and communities; and
WHEREAS, sickle cell disease is a group of inherited disorders that affects hemoglobin, the molecule in red blood cells that delivers oxygen to cells throughout the body; and
WHEREAS, sickle cell disease causes atypical hemoglobin molecules, called hemoglobin S, which distorts red blood cells into a sickle, or crescent, shape; and
WHEREAS, sickle-shaped cells are not flexible, and can stick to vessel walls and cause blockages that slow or stop the blood flow to nearby tissues; and
WHEREAS, the lack of tissue oxygen can cause attacks of sudden, severe pain, called pain crises, and organ damage; and
WHEREAS, signs and symptoms of sickle cell disease include low red blood cell count, repeated infections, and periodic episodes of pain, and these signs usually begin in early childhood; and
WHEREAS, sickle cell disease is the most common blood disorder in the United States, affecting approximately 100,000 Americans; and
WHEREAS, this disease is most common among peoples who ancestors come from Africa, Mediterranean countries, the Arabian Peninsula, India, and Spanish-speaking regions of South America, Central America, and parts of the Caribbean; and
WHEREAS, sickle cell disease occurs in about 1 out of every 365 African-American births, and 1 out of every 16,300 Hispanic-American births; and
WHEREAS, Sickle Cell Awareness Day will help raise public awareness of individuals and families affected by this disease; and
WHEREAS, it is critical that those affected by sickle cell disease have access to quality, affordable care, and that research of this disease continues;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ralph S. Northam, do hereby recognize June 19, 2018, as the SICKLE CELL AWARENESS DAY in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.