When the sun goes down the red light goes up at the entrance to Atlantis’ Royal and Coral Towers, in a bid to shine a light on a hereditary blood disorder which takes center stage this Sickle Cell Awareness Month.
“We do not light up for every cause, but Sickle Cell Disease is prevalent in people of African descent, our primary population in The Bahamas. Atlantis thought it important to bring awareness to SCD,” said Viana Gardiner, the resort’s vice president of public affairs and special projects.
According to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Sickle Cell Disease causes the body to produce crescent or sickle-shaped red blood cells. These cells have difficulty passing through small blood vessels and block normal red blood cells from entering tissue. Parts of the body that do not receive normal blood flow eventually become damaged which could result in anemia, vision loss, chronic pain, deep vein thrombosis, infection, pulmonary embolism and stroke.
“We wanted to shine a light so that parents are aware they can get their newborns screened for Sickle Cell and begin to receive treatment earlier. We wanted to encourage people to participate in blood drives that are necessary to assist sickle cell patients in their pain management treatment and we wanted to inspire others to light it up and to donate funds to support the cause,” said Gardiner.
The red lights, which went up last week, were due to debut earlier in the month. However, the iconic resort took its lead from the state in observing a period of mourning for Queen Elizabeth II. The special lights will continue to illuminate select areas of the property for the remainder of the month.
“We are ecstatic that Atlantis saw it fitting to partner with us in raising awareness of Sickle Cell,” said Kristin Beneby, president of the Bahamas Sickle Cell Association.
“Corporate collaborations and public sector partnerships are essential if we are to improve the quality of life for persons living with SCD.”
The BSCA is a non-profit organization that works to educate the public about Sickle Cell and its impact on patients, their families and caregivers.
The Association’s long-term goals include transforming sicklers’ hospital experience when seeking emergency care, expanding the organization’s physical presence into more Family Islands and establishing a home to provide temporary accommodations for sickle cell warriors from the Family Islands travelling to New Providence for treatment.
Writer: Tosheena Robinson BSc, MSc
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