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Ruben Studdard, American Idol Winner and R&B Pop Star, Spreads the Word about Sickle Cell Disease and the Dangers of Iron Overload

National tour kicks-off June 19 at the United Nations

NEW YORK, June 17 /PRNewswire/ --

Event Highlights:

  • Performance by Ruben Studdard, including the world premiere of "I Am a Fighter," a song inspired by Be Sickle Smart
  • United Nations declaration of World Sickle Cell Day
  • Mayor Bloomberg of New York declares his support for the Be Sickle Smart program
  • Free screenings for a serious and under-recognized condition called iron overload

    WHAT:    The Be Sickle Smart "Empowerment Day" national tour begins in
             New York City in partnership with local SCDAA chapters - Sickle
             Cell/Thalassemia Patients Network (SCTPN) and Queens Sickle Cell
             Advocacy Network (QSCAN). The event educates those living with
             sickle cell disease (SCD) about the risk for iron overload due
             to blood transfusions. The event will include:

             -- Educational seminars with Dr. James T. D'Olimpio M.D. FACP,
                Director, Supportive and Palliative Programs in Hematology
                and Oncology, Monter Cancer Center of North Shore University
             -- Performances by Ruben Studdard with meet and greet
             -- Debut and autographed copies of "Just Like Me" a children's
                book authored by pediatric nurse practitioner, Tina Taylor
                (available in English and Spanish)
             -- Free, on-site iron overload screenings (serum ferritin tests)
                for eligible patients
             -- Declaration of support from Mayor Bloomberg's office

    WHO:     Interview opportunities with Ruben Studdard, SCDAA spokesperson
             Dr. Loretta Jordan, Dr. D'Olimpio, Tina Taylor, and a person
             living with SCD

    WHEN:    Friday, June 19, 2009; 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
             -- Ruben Studdard performances at 12:30 p.m. and 2:15 p.m.
             -- Book reading by children's author Tina Taylor and signing at
                4:30 p.m.
             -- Iron Overload Screenings 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

    WHERE:   Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, 1st Avenue & 47th Street, New York, NY
             (Across the street from the UN)

    WHY:     Many people with SCD receive blood transfusions to help treat
             their disease. While transfusions have important benefits, they
             also can lead to a dangerous buildup of iron called iron
             overload. Iron overload, characterized by the build-up of excess
             iron within tissues, can develop after as few as 10 blood
             transfusions.  While the condition may lead to heart failure,
             diabetes, liver damage, or even affect sexual development in
             young people or compromise the immune system, many patients
             don't recognize these symptoms until substantial damage has
             already occurred. A simple blood test called a serum ferritin
             test can indicate if someone is at risk for iron overload due
             to blood transfusions. A serum ferritin level of over 1,000
             mcg/L means that a person may be at risk for iron overload and
             should talk with their physicians about treatment options.

             More than 70,000 people in the U.S. have SCD, and one in 100
             Hispanic Americans has the sickle cell trait.

             Be Sickle Smart is a nationwide grassroots health-education
             program aimed at increasing awareness of iron overload among
             people living with sickle cell disease. In association with the
             National SCDAA, local chapters of the SCDAA and patient advocacy
             groups, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation is proud to sponsor
             of the Be Sickle Smart "Empowerment Day" national tour. For
             additional information about sickle cell disease and iron
             overload, a list of tour dates, or to download and listen to
             Ruben Studdard's song, go to

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Luz Varela (212) 704-8156; Nupur Raghunath, (212) 704-4435

SOURCE Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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