According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Sickle Cell Anemia occurs in 1 out of every 365 black or African American births. While Sickle Cell Anemia affects persons of every race and ethnicity, the fact that this disease affects persons of African descent worldwide makes it an important issue for the Black diaspora. What can med students do? Abibat tells us her story.
My name is Abibat Oshiobugie. I am Nigerian, born and raised, but California is my 2nd home. I am a first year student at St George’s School of Medicine with the heart to serve the sickle cell community. In my free time, as a stress reliever, I love cooking (let’s not join the Nigerian versus Ghanaian jollof battle, we know which wins). You’ll also find me in nature hiking a trail, or by the beach and I cherish quality time with family and loved ones.
“Sickle cell chose me.”
In the community, we have found this to be true. Here the passion for wanting to serve this community is deeper than one just discovering it for themselves. I grew up around sickle cell. Two of my siblings have sickle cell disease (SCD) and the rest of my siblings and I have the sickle cell trait (SCT). And this was the reason for my constant exposure to health care growing up. I saw my siblings feeling unwell; sometimes we were up all night, but after a hospital visit, they felt better. I became really fascinated by our family doctor at the time, because he seemed to take their discomfort away. This is what ignited my interest in medicine.
Getting older really opened my eyes to a lot of things in medicine. I became more passionate about medicine in general and could see disparities from a global perspective, especially after coming to the United States. One of my sisters also passed away from sickle cell anemia in Nigeria in 2014, and this brought to my attention the quality of care globally, and how it could alleviate or enhance a disease. This was a big moment in my life as it confirmed my “why medicine” and to what capacity I wanted to be involved. I knew I wanted to serve the sickle cell community and bring the quality of care to patients that my family never got.
I see myself in primary care, I also love women’s health and hope to loop this all together in the near future. Before med school, I participated in several internships, jobs and opportunities that gave me hands on experience to work with patients and also folks from the Black community. I had the opportunity of joining a non-profit called “Sickle Cell 101” as the research and education manager. It has been one of my best highlights of actually serving the sickle cell community. We are big on sickle cell education. Our work is dedicated to providing evidence-based and patient friendly content to the sickle cell community about SCD and SCT. Check us out on social media at @sicklecell101 and sc101.org. I have honestly learned so much about the disease, research going on, how warriors interact with each other and have such unique stories and strengths.
Definitely follow my journey on @abiswhitecoat as I would love to highlight my experience as an immigrant woman in medicine and how that plays into having a family, serving the underserved, advocacy and the reality of this #doctorgoals.
We thank Abi for sharing with us about sickle cell disease. Remember to follow her med school and SCD activism journey on Instagram @abiswhitecoat, and check out more black med content at her secondary page @afromedjourney.
Want to learn more about sickle cell disease and how the black communitty is affected? Check out these resources: