Sickle Cell Disease (A Bahamian Story)

September is Sickle Cell month and historically Sickle Cell was first described in 1910 by a dental student. In The Bahamas, beginning in December 1, 1973 to March 26, 1974, a small group consisting of Jacob Cooper, Rand Memorial Lab Supervisor (Treasurer); Gwendolyn Hamilton-Claude (secretary); Edward Claude (Patient and Public Relations Officer) and myself Dr. Roopi (Chairman - President) began the Vanguard work of providing two electrophoresis machines to test all students (private and public) for Sickle Cell disease.

Several persons made donations to the effort.

With the addition of “Ride With Roop For Sickle Cell” and other money raising schemes, like the raffle of a Volkswagen, our goal was reached in providing two machines. Sir Sidney Poitier, out of his own pocket, sent us the Sickle Cell movie “A Warm December,” which was shown at the Columbus Theater with cheese and wine.
Additional assistance was provided to make this a complete success.

Professor Charles F. Whitten of Wayne State University, the Sickle Cell president in America, came down and a local businessman was benevolent enough to provide hotel accommodations for the Sickle Cell lectures; and training session’s Professor Whitten gave.

Doctors Patrick Roberts and Percival McNeil joined the lecture series here in Grand Bahama. The Sickle Cell movement then commenced in New Providence by Dr. Patrick Roberts. In 1975 this committee was recognized by the Prime Minister of The Bahamas and September was denoted Sickle Cell Month.

August 4, 1975, I went with my family on mission to East Africa, Tanzania, and Sister Sylvia Davis kindly took over the running of the Sickle Cell Committee.

My first exposure to Sickle Cell was through my next door neighbor of the continent of Andros, and it was only with further research that Dr. Adolf Richter had carefully, statistically been following the new Sickle Cell cases in West End: notably in the Wilchcombe family. My mother is related to the Wilchcombes and it was subsequently that we found my niece Tonya Moss, my sister Greta’s only child had Sickle Cell trait.

Jacob Cooper died last month, and Sister Sylvia Davis passed away many years go. The committee is therefore planning a luncheon Saturday, September 30, 2017 honoring Sister Sylvia Davis and Jacob Cooper in demise and Gwen Hamilton-Claude and Edward Claude as living legends … SICKLE CELL WARRIORS.

The public is being urged to get information from the offices of Dr. Roopi, 352-2222. Tickets will come on sale in the first week of September.


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