Two women shine light on sickle cell while celebrating Juneteenth in Biloxi

Two women shine light on sickle cell while celebrating Juneteenth in Biloxi

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) – The Biloxi Town Green was filled with tents and food trucks on Saturday as the Biloxi Movers & Shakers partnered with the city for its third annual Juneteenth celebration.

While Biloxi residents took advantage of the Juneteenth celebration downtown, some vendors took the opportunity to spread awareness of a special cause.

“When we heard about the Juneteenth event, we thought about what better way to come out where our people are knowing that sickle cell affects the majority of our people?” asked Jennifer Daniels

Daniels and Dr. Vanessa Duntombe, along with their friends and loved ones, spent a portion of their Saturday talking with people about sickle cell while debunking some myths that are out there.

“People will think it is a cancer, but it is an inherited blood disorder, and when the cells are misshapen and misshapen, it causes a lot of crises because the cells are not free-flowing in the blood vessels and people are at risk of infections, have pain crisis and are at risks of strokes,” said Dr. Duntombe.

Dr. Duntombe adds they are also looking to make more people aware of ways to treat sickle cell, such as gene therapy.

“The Mississippi Sickle Cell Center is a resource for people and that’s something we need to look at because living with sickle cell can be painful and really cause people to have disparities in their life,” she explains. “There’s also people who have sickle cell traits. That’s when you have it but are at risk of transmitting it to your children.”

Both women say they chose Juneteenth weekend to spread that awareness for a reason — Sickle Cell Awareness Day is on the same day as Juneteenth.

In the spirit of the holiday, they wanted to help educate and free the black community from diseases like sickle cell.

“1 in 365 children are born with sickle cell disease in African Americans, so that’s a big thing,” said Dr. Duntombe. “9% of African Americans have sickle cell traits, and that’s a big impact. June 19th is Sickle Cell Awareness Day and Juneteenth, so there we go.”

“You really want to be educated when dating and finding out if your partner has the disease so that it won’t affect your child or children in the long run,” said Daniels. “That’s why it’s important.”

The women say they will not stop until sickle cell therapy becomes available in the state.

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