As 11-year-old Hawi Ooko is wheeled into a treatment room at the Nairobi West Hospital, her infectious smile knows no bounds despite battling a disease that has ruined her life.
We learn from her mother Agnes Adhiambo that she was born with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD).
Dr Kibet Shikuku, a human pathology expert at the hospital, describes the procedure that Hawi is set to undergo – automated red blood cell exchange (RBC), also known as erythrocytapheresis.
It is a non-surgical treatment to remove a patient’s harmful red blood cells and replace them with safe red blood cells from a donor.
This means that if your child has SCD or another rare disorder where her red blood cells are abnormal, the doctor may recommend automated red blood cell exchange — rather than blood transfusions — as part of a long-term care management.