NFL’s Devin & Jason McCourty Talk Sickle Cell Awareness In Exclusive Q&A
Growing up, twin NFL defensive backs Devin (New England Patriots) and Jason McCourty (Tennessee Titans) saw firsthand the challenges that can come with sickle cell disease (SCD). Their aunt inspired them to not only find ways to help support and empower her, but also the thousands of people in the U.S. living with the disease.
BlackDoctor.org recently spoke with the McCourty Twins, who are the Founders of the Tackle Sickle Cell campaign, about sickle cell disease, how it impacted their family and their work to bring more awareness to SCD.
BlackDoctor.org: How does someone get sickle cell disease?
Devin: Sickle cell disease is actually a hereditary blood disorder, so it’s not something you can catch or develop over time. It’s a chronic, life-long disease with many forms that can range in severity – some patients experience very mild symptoms, while it can be life-threatening for others.1 Our Aunt Winnie has lived with sickle cell her entire life; we’ve watched her battle this disease and seen her go through so much. She’s a true inspiration to us. She’s the reason why we started the Tackle Sickle Cell Foundation and stay so involved in the sickle cell community. Over the years, we’ve learned so much about the disease and how amazing the community is – they are so supportive of one another.
BlackDoctor.org: What does it mean to carry the sickle cell trait and how can someone learn if they have the trait?
Jason: A person can be a carrier of the sickle cell gene, but never experience any symptoms – this was the case for our dad. For a child to be born with sickle cell disease, both parents have to be carriers.1 A simple blood test can determine if you’re a carrier of the gene that could potentially be passed on to your children.