Open Letter to Rickey Smiley: ……..and anyone else who thinks dying from Sickle Cell is a Joke.

Dear Rickey Smiley,

My son Dylan was diagnosed with Sickle Cell Anemia at 5 weeks old. Sickle Cell Anemia is an incurable blood disorder that causes pain when sickle shaped red blood cells are trapped in blood vessels. I remember our first doctors appointment where the hematologist taught me how to check my newborns spleen to see if it was enlarged and how to assess whether my 5 week old had suffered a stroke.Both enlarged spleens and strokes are common in patients with Sickle Cell Anemia.

I also remember at 5 months Dylan was hospitalized with a fever. By the time we left the hospital his hands were so swollen and in pain he refused to let anyone touch them or hold his bottle. His sickled red bloodcells were trapped in the tiny blood vessels in his 5 month old hands.

Over his short 5 year old lifespan he’s been in the hospital numerous times some times for weeks at a time. One of the most devastating stays was a painful crisis that rendered him unable to walk when he was 2 yrs old. During this stay he cried out in excruciating pain while I tried to hold it together and decide whether morphine was the best choice for my 2 yr olds 20 pound body.

Did you find any humor in the 3 experiences I just mentioned? Was there any thing funny about witnessing a baby in pain? While reading did you think this is great comedic material? Dylan hasn’t even experienced half of what some other Sickle Cell Warriors have experienced at his age. Some have already had multiple blood transfusions, spleen removal, strokes and other Sickle Cell related complications before the age of 5. Life expectancy for women with Sickle Cell Anemia is 48 and for men with Sickle Cell is 42 yrs old. http://scinfo.org/2018/01/11/sickle-cell-news-for-january-2018/

It was extremely irresponsible for you to list Sickle Cell in the list of fake ailments in your church obituary skit. Your platform is huge and includes many Sickle Cell Warriors? their friends family and loved ones. None of them found this to be funny. In fact if you read the numerous comments on your page and on YouTube you will see how hurtful this joke was to your fans. It was unnecessary for you to include Sickle Cell Anemia in your skit. Its hurtful that this life threatening and life shortening disease is not even taken seriously in our own community.

In December 2018 the government finally decided to take Sickle Cell Disease seriously by approving the law that will increase funding, research and treatment options for the Sickle Cell community

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/bipartisan-bill-aimed-fight-sickle-cell-disease-signed-law-trump-n949691 (

Sickle Cell Anemia primarily affects the black community , your target audience. You will never find a comedian joking about Tay-Sachs or Cystic Fibrosis which are rare diseases that affect a very specific population. These diseases affect less people in the US yet they receive more funding and resources than Sickle Cell Anemia.

Everything is not meant to be a joke or taken lightly. Please consider using your platform to provide more awareness around Sickle Cell Anemia so that others will take our warriors seriously as well. Often are warriors are treated poorly by the medical community who assume they are drug addicts when they come in complaining of pain. Sickle Cell Warriors need the support of their community without being the butt of a poorly thought out joke.

Update – The YouTube video of the segment has been removed thankfully.