Sickle Cell Anemia Center

The Comprehensive Center for Sickle Cell Disease, located at our Oakland campus, offers the largest and most comprehensive program for sickle cell disease patients in the western United States. Established in 1973, we've been at the forefront of research advancing the search for better treatments and a cure for more than 45 years.

We provide diagnosis, treatment and long-term health care management for patients of all ages, from babies to young adults. Our team of specialists includes hematologists, pediatricians, internists, nurse practitioners, genetic counselors, social workers and psychologists.

At UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals, our goal is to help your child and family achieve the best possible quality of life. We work with you to develop a comprehensive treatment plan, as well as strategies to minimize symptoms and complications. Our psychosocial team can help you advocate for your child's special needs with schools and employers, and find other resources.

In sickle cell disease, a genetic (inherited) defect changes the shape of red blood cells from round to a C or sickle shape. Anemia develops because C-shaped cells can't carry enough oxygen to the organs of the body. They also get stuck in tiny blood vessels, which leads to pain and more serious problems.

Early diagnosis and treatment can slow or prevent some complications. We offer the latest promising treatments, including hydroxyurea, the first successful medical therapy for the disease, and bone marrow transplants. We're also exploring better pain management, such as using ketamine to reduce opioid usage and complementary therapies like virtual reality and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) and massage. In addition, our patients have the opportunity to take part in clinical trials.

Patients can also receive care for sickle cell disease in San Francisco and elsewhere at one of UCSF's several Pediatric Hematology Clinics.


Our locations (1)

    Awards & recognition

    • Ranked among the nation's best in 10 specialties

    Recommended reading


    Raising a Child with Sickle Cell Disease: Tips for Parents

    If your child has sickle cell disease, these tips can help you monitor their health, prevent illness and know when to call your child's doctor.

    Plan your visit

    Preparing for your appointment

    What to Bring

    • Photo I.D.
    • Health insurance card
    • Insurance authorization, if required
    • Doctor's referral, if required
    • Recent test results related to your child's condition
    • List of medications, including dosages, plus any your child is allergic to
    • List of questions you may have
    • Device or paper for taking notes

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    Your Stay

    We offer valuable information to help you plan for your child's upcoming hospital stay. Find out about food services, family accommodations and more.

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    Your Child's Care Team

    Our doctors, nurses, child life specialists and other providers have special training to care for children. Meet your child's care team.

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    Interpreter Services & Communication Assistance

    Interpreter services in many languages and TDDs are available for families that need help communicating with care teams. Here's how to access them.

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    Related clinics (2)

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    Hematology Clinic

    Hematology Clinic

    San Francisco / Oakland / Santa Rosa / Walnut Creek


    Hemoglobinopathy Lab

    Hemoglobinopathy Lab

    747 52nd St.
    Oakland, CA 94609

    Support services

    Child Life Services

    Activity rooms, pet therapy and more to help kids feel at home.

    Child Life

    Certified child life specialists ease the stress and anxiety of childhood illness through therapeutic play, schooling and family-focused support.

    Family Amenities

    Family-friendly amenities help you relax and take care of yourself while staying close to your child. We offer lounges, kitchens, showers, breastfeeding rooms and more.


    Social Services

    Social workers ease the effect of illness, injury and hospitalization on your family with counseling and assistance to help you navigate the challenges.


    Activity Rooms

    Activity rooms offer a relaxed environment for children of all ages. Features include a playroom, digital arts studio and teen lounge. Find out more.


    Art Therapy

    Art therapy helps kids and families express themselves, making it easier to cope with pediatric health issues. Group and bedside services are available.


    Music Therapy Program

    Board-certified music therapists help kids cope with illness and the feelings that come with it. Find out about group activities and bedside therapy.


    School Program

    Our schoolroom services and individual learning programs help children hospitalized at UCSF continue their education and get ready to return to school.


    School Re-Entry Program

    After hospitalization, we help kids return to school by educating staff and students about their needs and recommending needed accommodations. Read more.


    Individual Playtime & Instruction

    If your child can't be around other kids for medical reasons, you can sign up for private sessions in our activity and school rooms. Find out how.


    Interpreter Services & Communication Assistance

    Interpreter services in many languages and TDDs are available for families that need help communicating with care teams. Here's how to access them.

    Family Resource Center

    We help families cope with the challenges of childhood illness and hospitalization in a relaxing environment where parents can get a much-needed break.


    Parent Support Program

    Weekly activities, including knitting, scrapbooking, chair massage and more, help family caregivers get a much-needed break. Find out more.


    Patient Relations

    Patient relations reps and nursing supervisors are here to answer questions and address concerns. Learn about your rights, how to reach us and more.


    Spiritual Care

    Chaplains help UCSF patients, families and staff cope with the spiritual and emotional challenges of childhood illness. Learn more.


    International Services

    If you're coming to UCSF from outside the U.S., we coordinate your child's appointments and provide other helpful services. Here's how to get started.

    Smell the roses

    Wander outside into our Butterfly Garden in Oakland and our healing gardens at Mission Bay.