First Description of Sickle-Shaped Blood Cells by Dr. James Herrick

First Description of Sickle-Shaped Blood Cells by Dr. James Herrick

In 1904, Walter Clement Noel travelled from Grenada to the United States to start studying at the Chicago College of Dental Surgery.  A few months later he was admitted to [...]

In 1904, Walter Clement Noel travelled from Grenada to the United States to start studying at the Chicago College of Dental Surgery.  A few months later he was admitted to the Presbyterian Hospital in Chicago when he developed severe respiratory distress and a leg ulcer, both of which we now know are symptoms of Sickle Cell.  Dr. Earnest E. Irons, the intern who was on duty that day, performed a routine blood test and a urine analysis for Noel and was the first to observe these “pear-shaped, elongated” sickled blood cells.  It was not until 1910 that Dr. Herrick, the supervisor of Dr. Irons, published his article describing these “peculiar elongated and sickle-shaped red blood corpuscles in a case of severe anaemia.”  This was the first documented and recorded case of Sickle Cell in western medicine.
 
Dr. Noel returned to Grenada in 1907 and ran his dental practice in St. Georges, the capital city until he died at the age of 32 from the acute chest syndrome.  The original report can be found here.