BROOKLYN - September is national sickle cell anemia awareness month, and many in the area are working to get the word out about the incurable, but treatable disease.

Sickle cell anemia is genetic; both parents can carry the traits. It causes red blood cells to stiffen into sickle shapes, which can cause blockages in blood vessels. Doctors say those blockages can lead to organ damage, severe pain or stroke.

Many young Brooklyn residents live with the disease. Patients like 5-year-old Julia Sharpe remain optimistic. Blood donate d from Brooklyn residents of African descent helps keep kids like her healthy. The blood comes in the form of transfusions that patients sometimes get about every three weeks until a cure is found.

Doctors usually test newborns for sickle cell anemia soon after birth. Officials say almost one in every 500 black babies is born with it.