Pediatric sickle cell anemia: Working together to fulfill your child's dreams

If your child has sickle cell anemia, UW Health Kids hematologists — members of Wisconsin's only comprehensive cancer center as designated by the National Cancer Institute — are ready to provide world-class care.
Kaliyah Nelson 588368-0710

Overview

About sickle cell anemia

Sickle cell anemia is an inherited form of anemia.

Normal red blood cells are smooth and flexible. Shaped like the letter O they easily move through your child’s blood vessels. Sickle cells become rigid and sticky and are shaped liked the letter C. These oddly shaped cells tend to cluster together and get stuck in the small blood vessels slowing or blocking blood flow and oxygen.

Symptoms and diagnosis

What to look for

Signs and symptoms

  • Easily tired

  • Anemia

  • Episodes of pain

  • Painful swelling in hands and feet

  • Frequent infections

  • Delayed growth

  • Vision problems

Diagnosis

Your child’s doctor will do a full physical exam and take a detailed medical history. They will also request a blood test to determine the type of hemoglobin your child has, if they have sickle cell anemia or if they are a carrier of the disease. 

Treatment

Sickle cell anemia treatment

UW Health Kids specialists offer the most advanced treatment options.

Treatment

  • Medications including pain-relievers and antibiotics are used to reduce pain and prevent complications

  • Blood transfusion. This is a routine medical procedure where donated blood is used to replace blood you have lost. 

  • Bone marrow transplant

Fighting pediatric cancer and blood disorders

UW Health Kids cancer and blood disorder experts are national research leaders. We test new therapies and continue to work on therapies for pediatric cancer and blood disorders. For many children with rare or hard-to-treat conditions, clinical trials provide new options.

Learn more about our clinical trials

Smiling child with signing UW Health Kids
UW Health Kids

Our pediatric experts have served the special needs of children for more than 100 years. We focus on each child’s unique needs and offer social and emotional support to help you and your child face even the most complex condition. Our long history includes the creation of medical advances that save lives around the world. Together, we get your child back to health and enjoying being a kid.

Patient stories

Meet our patients

Kaliyah Nelson 588368-0227
“It’s the greatest, most comforting feeling"

Shyniece Jackson trusts the UW Health Kids experts to care for her daughter Kaliyah Nelson, who often was in pain because of sickle cell anemia.

Meet our team

An experienced team providing your child with the care they deserve

Your child’s care is our top priority and we understand the unique needs they have.

Your child’s team will include

  • Child Life specialists

  • Hematologists (blood disease doctors)

  • Nurse practitioners

  • Nurses and transfusion medicine specialists

  • Pain management specialists

  • Physical, occupational and speech therapists

  • Radiologists and radiation technologists

  • Social workers

  • Surgeons

Meet our team

Locations

Care for your child

UW Health Kids hematologists are dedicated to diagnosing and treating all infants, children and adolescents with blood disorders, including sickle cell anemia. 

American Family Children’s Hospital

At American Family Children’s Hospital, you will find a friendly, child-centered environment. Our hospital is designed with relaxing spaces and areas where children are encouraged to play. 

  • American Family Children's Hospital
    American Family Children's Hospital
    American Family Children's Hospital
    • 1675 Highland Ave. / Madison, WI
    • (608) 263-7337
    • Open now
    • Offering your child the most advanced medical care directed by University of Wisconsin pediatricians – all in a state-of-the-art, family-friendly facility with lots of cozy amenities.

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      View hours, services and more

Patient and support services

You’re never alone

There are services available at both American Family Children’s Hospital and in the community to help patients and their families through every step of their journey. 

Services offered at American Family Children's Hospital

There are services available at both American Family Children’s Hospital and in the community to help patients and their families through every step of their journey. The services we offer include:

Additional resources

We care for your child as if they are our own

With our expertise comes compassion. Our team considers you and your child part of our family. We will be by your side every step of the way. From diagnosis through treatment and into adulthood, we will care for your child as if they are our own.

Learn more