Charles F. Whitten, MD was the Co-Founder and President Emeritus of Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Inc. His dedication and commitment to the Association and to those with sickle cell disease will be forever respected and cherished.
As a Pediatric Hematologist, Whitten was among the first to develop and insist on newborn screening for sickle cell disease, which is not performed worldwide. In 1974, he formed the Sickle Cell Detection and Information Center in Detroit, MI, the most comprehensive community program in the country. He also created color-coded “Whitten Dice” to educate couples about the genetic risk of having children with sickle cell disease.
The vision for a national coordinated approach to addressing issues related to sickle cell disease was unveiled in 1971 when representatives of 15 community sickle cell organizations met at “Wingspread,” a Racine, Wisconsin conference center, as guest of the Johnson Foundation. Out of that meeting, the National Association for Sickle Cell Disease was created. The name was changed to Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Inc. in 1994.
The Strategies defined at the “Wingspread” meeting laid the foundation for today’s Association.
- Provide leadership on a national level to create awareness of the negative impact of sickle cell disease on the health, economic, social and educational well-being of the individual and his or her family and to create awareness of the requirements for resolution.
- Prepare and distribute substantive educational materials, written and visual, about the sickle cell disease problem for all relevant segments of our society.
- Organize and/or participate in national and regional educational conferences.
- Develop and promote the implementation of service programs that will be in the best interest of the affected population.
- Develop positions and promote favorable resolution of issues and activities that could have an adverse effect on sickle cell programs or the affected population.
- Assist in the organization and development of local chapters.
- Provide ongoing technical assistance to members and other interested groups or organizations.
- Encourage adequate support for research activities leading to improved treatment and eventual cure.
Through the years the Association has provided effective leadership in positioning sickle cell disease and its related problems as a major public health care concern and, indeed a universal problem.