On Thursday, November 2, 2023, the New York City Council passed a newly proposed bill (#968) that will provide professional education, genetic screening, education, and outreach regarding sickle cell disease. New York Blood Center (NYBC), along with the Sickle Cell Awareness Foundation, celebrated the passage of the bill with a press conference led by the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Mercedes Narcisse. The bill, which is now pending Mayor Adams’ signature to be added as NYC law, will require that pre- and post-conception genetic screening for sickle cell trait be offered to those who fall into an at-risk population or for whom such screening is otherwise medically recommended.

Sickle cell disease patients rely on blood transfusions to stay healthy, often needing them every few weeks and requiring very closely matched blood products because their bodies make antibodies directed towards transfused red blood cells. This disease is an inherited red cell disorder that is most common among African Americans and impacts about 10,000 New Yorkers. NYBC’s leading research in sickle cell disease focuses on preventing and treating complications, including pain episodes and tissue injury, and developing novel strategies to help cure the disease through stem cell transplantation and gene therapy.

“The passage of this bill is deeply personal. As someone who carries the sickle cell trait, and as a nurse who has cared for patients battling this condition, I understand the multi-dimensional challenges it presents – from the physical pain to the emotional and social hurdles. Early detection, comprehensive education, and unbiased treatment for sickle cell disease are not just medical necessities; they are moral ones. We have the responsibility to ensure that those affected by sickle cell are not just seen, but are cared for with dignity, empathy, and afforded the best medical practices available,” said Council Member Mercedes Narcisse.

“Today, the City Council passed a historic bill to raise awareness of and make testing more accessible for this disease that is often overlooked and yet impacts thousands of New Yorkers. We thank the City Council for their support as well as the sickle cell advocates who fought for this bill’s passage,” said Andrea Cefarelli, Senior Vice President at New York Blood Center. “From our leading research team focused on sickle cell disease to our donor specialists who collect blood for treatment, New York Blood Center is committed to preventing and treating this disease.”

View News 12’s media coverage below.