A few years ago, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) began requiring college athletes to be tested for sickle cell disease and trait before being permitted to play.
The reason: the blood disease requires extra attention paid to hydration and rest and the organization wanted to ensure coaching staffs were aware of players on teams that they needed to keep an eye out for.
This applies to kids with the trait and not the full blown disease as well. It is concentrated among people of African descent, but other races are susceptible and have the hereditary disease as well.
At first, the American Society of Hematology opposed the requirement saying it was “groundless” and really implemented to protect the NCAA from legal liability and not really in genuine interest of students.
But the issue jumped to the forefront again recently after the death of a Texas teen football player with the disease.
Joshua “Josh” Warren of Longview, Texas collapsed after a very intense practice and later died.
Even though the requirement has been on the books for a while, pediatrician have been on high alert to test patients since Warren’s death.
If you have a kid who plays sports, even junior high level or middle school, his doctor may be asking you to test him or her for the trait if he wasn’t already tested at birth.
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