September is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month, designated by Congress to help focus attention on the need for research and treatment of the disease.

For the Ukanda family it is a time to raise much needed awareness of a disease that has impacted their family for many years. Three of the five Ukanda children have sickle cell disease — John, 17; Given, 16; and Blessing, 12. Finding the best care for their family is the reason they made the difficult journey from Burundi to Central Texas back in 2010.

According to their father. Michel Ukanda, the care the children were receiving in Burundi, East Africa would often leave them in pain all over their bodies and long hospitalizations.

“That’s why we came here. To have better treatment of sickle cell disease” said Ukanda.

The family are now cared for by Dr. Alicia Chang, and her team, at Dell Children’s Medical Center where we are busy building a comprehensive sickle cell center, which will give patients more access to clinical trials and the newest treatments.

The Austin American-Statesman published an in-depth article about the family and the center, you can read here.

The family were also featured on CBS Austin here, and Dr. Chang spoke with KXAN News, you can watch here.

The Children’s Blood & Cancer Center of Dell Children’s Medical Center is the only comprehensive children’s cancer center in Central Texas. 

Thanks to a $1.5M leadership level gift from the Shivers Cancer Foundation, the next $1.5M in donations to the Dell Children’s Blood & Cancer Center WILL BE MATCHED, doubling the impact it has on children and families like the Ukandas.