A Modern Day Hero
Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an autosomal recessive genetic condition that changes the shape and role of the hemoglobin molecule in red blood cells. While the overall survival rate among children with SCD has improved in recent years, pediatric rates of hospitalization, and mortality from complications of SCD remain high. Millions of people throughout the world have SCD, most frequently those of African, South or Central American, Caribbean, Mediterranean, Indian, or Saudi Arabian descent. In the United States, it is the most common inherited blood disorder, affecting more than 100,000 people, approximately 90% of whom are black and 10% of whom are Hispanic.
Dr. James Mubiru, originally from Uganda is an American citizen and currently resides in San Antonio. Until a couple of years ago Dr. Mubiru was a researcher for the University Health System (UHS). An article about the effects of SCD on children under the age of 5 in Uganda would change his life forever. The article revealed that 80% of the children born with SDC die before the age of 5 in his home country. According to the Sickle Cell Association of Uganda, 70 million Ugandans are at risk of having a child with SCD. More than 33,000 children are born with the disease each year in Uganda. Treatment is available for those residents who live in the major cities. The real dilemma occurs in the outlying communities and that is where Dr. Mubiru and his family come in.
Dr. Doug Heath Interviews Dr. James Mubiru, Watch Below:
After becoming aware of this modern-day tragedy, Dr. Mubiru decided to “do something”. Unable to get support from UHS, he decided to make an impact on his own. In 2018 Dr. Mubiru, his wife and three children journeyed to Uganda with the goal of educating, diagnosing and treating children in rural Uganda. His efforts have demystified the disease in tribal communities that once thought evil spirits caused the debilitating effects endured by affected youth. “I have embarked on a project to do my best to combat sickle cell anemia and the devastation that it has caused in my home country. If detected early, the disease is easily controlled with a combined treatment of antibiotics and vaccinations”, said Dr. Mubiru. His initial efforts focused on the Kiboga district of Uganda. The positive results of his family’s pilgrimage have led neighboring communities to request his intervention. What makes his efforts more remarkable is that to date everything has been self-funded.
Servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world. The servant-leader is servant first! It begins with the natural feeling that one wants\ to serve first. A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. Dr. James Mubiru is an example of the consummate servant leader. A contemporary hero who toils in anonymity. You can help fund Dr. Mubiru mission by contributing on his GoFundMe link, https://www.gofundme.com/newborn-screening-for-sickle-cell.