Kwaku Ohene-Frempong, sickle cell expert, dies at 76

In his native Ghana, Dr Ohene-Frempong set up a pilot program to screen newborns for sickle cell disease in the southern city of Kumasi. ...


In his native Ghana, Dr Ohene-Frempong set up a pilot program to screen newborns for sickle cell disease in the southern city of Kumasi. This was the first program of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to identifying children with the disease, the program referred them to specialist clinics which provided treatments such as antibiotics to prevent infections, routine vaccinations and a drug, hydroxyurea, which can reduce the risk of complications from sickle cell disease..

Kwaku Ohene-Fremong was born on March 13, 1946 in Kukurantumi, Eastern Ghana to Kwasi Adde Ohene and Adwoa Odi Boafo. His father was a cocoa farmer and a prominent member of a royal family.

Kwaku attended boarding school, Prempeh College, then went to Yale University, where he majored in biology and captained the track team, setting indoor and outdoor records in high hurdles . While a student, he met Janet Williams, who was attending Cornell University. They married on June 6, 1970, a week after they both graduated.

Dr. Ohene-Frempong said in a 2019 interview that he first learned about sickle cell disease when he and friends attended a conference on the disease at Yale. As he listened, he said, he suddenly recognized the disease: it was in his family but had not been diagnosed. One of his cousins ​​had the symptoms and died at age 14.

“He was in pain,” he said of his cousin. “His eyes were very yellow and he was very skinny.”

Dr. Ohene-Frempong continued his medical studies at Yale, then went to New York Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan for his residency. He studied pediatric hematology at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia before joining Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, where he served as an associate professor of pediatrics.

During his six years at Tulane, he established the Tulane Sickle Cell Disease Center of South Louisianaa medical care facility, and helped the state health department develop a newborn screening program for the disease.

Dr Ohene-Frempong returned to the children’s hospital in 1986 and remained there for 30 years before leaving to work full-time in Ghana at the Kumasi Center for Sickle Cell Disease, a research and treatment centre. He was still based there when he returned to Philadelphia for cancer treatment.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Kwaku Ohene-Frempong, sickle cell expert, dies at 76
Kwaku Ohene-Frempong, sickle cell expert, dies at 76
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