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Tributes pour for sickle cell disease specialist, Prof K. Ohene-Frempong

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Tributes have started pouring in for world renowned Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) specialist and President of the Ghana Sickle Cell Foundation, Professor Ohene-Frempong, who passed away in the USA on May 7, 2022 after battling a rapid progressive cancer.

A professor of pediatrics and Director Emeritus of the comprehensive Sickle Cell Centre at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, USA, Prof. Ohene-Frempong was an advocate for the condition in Ghana and a global leader who devoted an increasing amount of time to Sickle Cell Disease work in Africa.

Among those who have paid tribute to him are the Vice President, Dr Mahamadu Bawumia, the West African Genetic Medicine Centre (WAGMC) and the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America.

Tributes

He was instrumental with helping move discussion on SCD in Ghana to the front.

The Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has sent a message of condolence to the family, describing his death as a big loss to the nation.

“I have received with sadness, the news of the passing away of my friend, Prof Kwaku Ohene-Frempong who until his death, was the president of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Ghana.

“Prof was a highly accomplished globally renowned in his area of speciality. He was a very humble and caring person He was passionate and committed in his research and practice in helping people living with sickle cell disease. His loss is indeed, a big loss to Ghana. My condolences to the family,” Dr Bawumia tweeted.

The Sickle Cell Disease Association of America also posted on its website: “We will greatly miss Dr. Ohene-Frempong’s dedication, passion and intelligence.”

“It is with heavy hearts and great difficulty that we announce the passing of Prof. Kwaku Ohene-Frempong, the West African Genetic Medicine Centre (WAGMC) Sectoral Advisory Board Chair (SAB). Prof. Kwaku Ohene-Frempong passed away peacefully on May 7,” the board also announced on its website.

“Prof. Ohene-Frempong was an important and inspirational member of the WAGMC team since its inception.

“He dedicated his medical career to improving the lives of people with SCD. WAGMC mourns a great loss,” the WAGMC further said.

Profile

Prof. Ohene-Frempong has been an advocate for disease in Ghana and around the world and has researched extensively on the disease.

Born in Kukurantumi in the Eastern Region, Prof Ohene-Frempong obtained his Ordinary and Advanced Level certificates from Prempeh College

His excellent academic and impressive athletics credentials earned him scholarship to go to Yale University in 1966 and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology in. He continued to Yale School of Medicine and graduated in 1975.

He then proceeded to Tulane University where he established the Sickle Cell Centre of Southern Louisiana and served as its first Medical Director. He also became the Director of the Section of Paediatric Hematology-Oncology and Associate Professor of Paediatrics at Tulane University of Medicine

In 1986, Prof Ohene-Frempong returned to Philadelphia and became the Director of the Sickle Cell Programme under the Division of Hematology, under his leadership, the division earned a grant from the National Institutes of Health to set up one of US’s 10 comprehensive Sickle Cell Centres.

Passionate about Ghana and keen to bring his knowledge to benefit his community, he undertook his doctoral thesis on “Child Health in Ghanaian Community” as a result of what he was exposed to when he worked at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi in 1974.

He thus extended his research work to Ghana and led the Philadelphia Hospital to team up with other stakeholders in Ghana to undertake project in screening newborn babies to know their sickle cell status in Kumasi and Tikrom.

That project led to the expansion of the sickle cell centres in Ghana as well as became the led advocate for replicating that project nationwide as well as make it an integral part for healthcare for babies in Ghana at all health centres.

He also founded the Sickle Cell Foundation in Ghana to provide a voice, support, advocacy and intervention for SCD patients in the country.

He run regular clinics for patients at the Sickle Cell Clinic at the 37 Military Hospital .

Prof Ohene-Frempong also served as a member of the Sickle Cell Disease Advisory Committee of the National Institute of Health (1986-1990) and was also elected the President of the SCD Association of America in 1991 and ended his two-term in 1998.

He remained an advisory board member of the Sportsman

While at Yale, he captained the college’s track and field team and set both indoor and outfoot records in high hurdles. He continued to represent Ghana and competed in 1970, set a new national record in the 110 metres, a record that was broken in 1996 at the Atlanta Olympic Games.

During his graduation from Yale University in 1970, he was awarded the William Mallory Award for the Best Student-Athlete.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), gave him the Silver Anniversary Award in 1975 an award that recognised six distinguished former student-athletes on their 25th anniversary as college graduates.

In 1999, he was named as one of the first inductee into the International Scholar Athlete Hall of Fame alongside, Arthur Ashe, the first black tennis star.

In 2001, as part of Yale University’s 300th anniversary, he was selected as one of nine former athletes of Yale as the first recipients of the Willam H.W. Bush Lifetime of Leadership Award.

 

Source: Graphic

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