Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a congenital serious illness with significant morbidity across the lifespan, including frequent pain crises and other complications (e.g., stroke, acute chest syndrome, and risk for multi-organ failure over time). Living with SCD also brings increased mortality, with an average life expectancy of about fifty years. The majority of patients with SCD are Black and Brown, and have faced systemic racism and inequitable care while coping with their illness. To date, it has been rare that patients with sickle cell disease receive palliative care.

In this clinical presentation, hematologist Sharl Azar, MD, and palliative care physician Stephanie Kiser, MD, MPH, will present a case and share the unique palliative care needs of this patient population, current evidence base, and needs for future research. They will also present a successful palliative care model for this population—the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Disease Treatment Center at Massachusetts General Hospital.

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