Sen. Scott discusses healthcare changes for sickle cell patients

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - Sen. Tim Scott on Monday afternoon discussed the state of healthcare for sickle cell anemia patients in Charleston.

"This is an opportunity for me to hear real stories from real people who are in a lot of pain," said Scott.

A handful of patients suffering from the disease were able to share their stories with Scott.

Kenneth Stewart and his family were in the group. Stewart and both his son and daughter have sickle cell disease.

"The pain is excruciating," said Stewart, as he tried to explain the impact of sickle cell. "As a kid I can remember having to be picked up out of the bed and carried to the bathroom to wash and use the bathroom."

Sickle Cell Anemia, also known as sickle cell disease, attacks the red blood cells. The cells are crescent shaped instead of round and causes acute pain, infections and vascular blockages that can lead to organ damage and death.

"The worst part for me was looking at my daughter at her first crisis and her being in pain," Stewart said. "As an adult, I can bring tears to my eyes. Sometimes you just want to ball up in a fetal position and just kind of hold yourself."

Scott says sickle cell awareness is a personal cause.

"My mother suffers from the sickle cell trait, my brother has it and my nephew as well. So, when I was presented the opportunity to get involved, I saw it as a personal exploration."

On Monday, Scott announced he was the new co-chair for the congressional caucus on sickle cell disease.

"If you want to have a measurable impact in reasonable time in someone's life, go talk to someone who is suffering through something like sickle cell, a disease that is so unknown by the average person," said Scott. "This is an opportunity to make a significant impact."