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Martin Center helps Hoosiers living with sickle cell disease

12-year-old Corine Dolley is the 2021 youth ambassador for the Martin Center Sickle Cell Initiative.

INDIANAPOLIS — Sickle cell disease is a rare genetic blood disorder that primarily affects people of color. The disease is often painful. Life expectancy is age 48 for men, 42 for women.

Corine Dolley is a seventh grader living in Pike Township. She just turned 12 years old and looks forward to a birthday party sleepover this weekend.

"I feel like an average kid, just that I have to take more medicine, and sometimes go to the hospital more often,” said Dolley.

Dolley was born with sickle cell disease. The disease causes red blood cells to become sickle-shaped, stiff, and sticky and block blood flow. That can cause pain crises.  

"It feels like if your arm or leg fell asleep, but like there's a tight clinch in it,” said Dolley. “It's very painful. Sometimes I can't sleep because of it." 

Dolley is the 2021 youth ambassador for the Martin Center Sickle Cell Initiative.

"To make sure people know more about sickle cell, and to encourage them to donate or help out however they can,” said Dolley. 

"You're a sickle cell warrior and you fight against this disease that is always trying to put you down, always trying to set you back, upsetting your education, upsetting your opportunities for employment, causing you trouble with money,” said Gary Gibson, president of the Martin Center.

The Martin Center was founded in 1969 and operates out of two homes at 3545 & 3549 N. College Avenue, giving clients a comfortable place to learn more and get help for living with sickle cell disease.

Credit: WTHR
The Martin Center operates out of two homes on North College Avenue.

The Martin Center provides social services, support groups, even a food pantry.

"There is actually very little we can do to help them physically,” said Gibson. “We are focused on trying to help them emotionally, spiritually, and etc. and trying to improve the quality of life that they have. That's what we're all about."

Dolley will help raise money for the Martin Center on Facebook Live Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to noon. The 25th annual Sickle Cell 5K Walk/Run is virtual this year. You can still register for the event for $35, or make a donation