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Ryan Clark Tackle’s Sickle Cell in new awareness program

As we all know, Steelers Safety Ryan Clark suffers from the Sickle Cell trait in his blood. This disorder keeps him from playing places like Denver where the altitude is high and the air is thin. While Clark has previously lobbied to try and play, the Steelers organization makes no bones about it, his life is more important than football so there’s no way he’ll be any other place but the sidelines in situations like playing in Mile High.

Clark officially launched a new awareness program this week, called Ryan Clark’s Cure League – Tackling Sickle Cell. He is partnering with with UPMC, the University of Pittsburgh’s Vascular Medicine Institute, and the Institute for Transfusion Medicine.

An estimated 2 million Americans carry one copy of the sickle cell gene. One of every 500 African-American births and one of every 36,000 Spanish-American births carry the trait, like Clark.

In a press conference on Tuesday, he talked about the program, explaining in more detail what sickle cell is, and what he hopes to accomplish.

His new website, www.CureLeague.org has a ton of information about the blood disorder and anwers many common questions about the different types of sickle cell that are out there. It also includes patient stories, medical trials and research, as well as Clark’s story about his life with Sickle Cell.

Sickle cells are rigid and sticky. They become lodged in blood vessels, blocking proper blood flow. This blockage can cause serious complications. It affects hemoglobin — a protein found in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body. This inherited blood disorder causes the body to produce abnormal hemoglobin, causing the red blood cells to develop the sickle, or crescent, shape associated with the disease.

We as fans can get involved by following the new Twitter @CureLeague and #CureLeague and #TeamSickleCell hashtags.

All this information and much more about the disorder and his new initiative can be found on the Cure League.

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