Clayton County to light up old courthouse for sickle cell awareness

Mapillar Dahn talks with her daughter Khadeejah Tyler, 15, while she undergoes her sickle cell anemia treatment at the Scottish Rite Children's Hospital in Atlanta. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC
Caption
Mapillar Dahn talks with her daughter Khadeejah Tyler, 15, while she undergoes her sickle cell anemia treatment at the Scottish Rite Children's Hospital in Atlanta. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Clayton County plans to light up the old courthouse on Saturday to bring greater awareness to the impact of sickle cell anemia.

As many Americans celebrate Juneteenth for the first time as a national holiday Saturday, the lighting at the courthouse is meant to also focus on a disease that has a huge impact on the African-American community.

“This disease is affecting so many in our community and what better way to do it than on June 19th because that is the day that we celebrate our independence as African Americans,” Commissioner Felicia Franklin, who approved the lighting, said earlier this week.

The lighting comes as the nation recognized the disease earlier this month during World Sickle Cell Day and as the cities of Riverdale and Lovejoy joined Clayton and Henry counties in proclaiming Saturday as sickle cell day in their communities.

“The proclamations and support of our local leaders help amplify our efforts of bringing much needed attention to the impact that sickle cell disease has on people in our local communities, said Mapillar Dahn, president and founder of the MTS Sickle Cell Foundation.

“It also shines a light on the need for improved patient healthcare services, increased research for a universal cure, universal newborn screening and treatment of sickle cell disease and more,” Dahn said.

Dahn, whose three daughters have sickle cell, said Georgia is home to one of the nation’s largest populations of individuals with the disease, with more than 7,000 people living with sickle cell in almost every county in Georgia.

Sickle cell is a red cell disorder that predominantly affects Black people -- but is not exclusive to the community -- and is most associated with pain as its chief symptom.

In addition to the courthouse lighting, MTS has placed a billboard on I-75 to bring awareness to the disease and used a recent Juneteenth event in Morrow to sign up volunteers for the Bone Marrow Registry. Morrow also is lighting up its City Hall.

“Sickle cell patients need the community to donate blood and join the National Bone Marrow Registry,” Dahn said. “We are currently seeing the results of a lack of awareness in the lack of diversity of donors.”