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Aflac's support of sickle cell disease and impact to date

The inspiration for Aflac's efforts to help address challenges brought on by sickle cell disease, in relation to larger disparities in pediatric health care, are largely centered on the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta:

  • The Aflac Cancer Center is the most prolific provider of sickle cell disease care in the United States, caring for nearly 2,000 pediatric patients each year and regularly performing the only cure for sickle cell disease – blood and marrow transplants (BMTs).
  • In 2020, it was rated No. 1 in the nation for total sickle cell disease discharges in 2020 with 2,000+ total patient visits according to the Public Health Information System Data.

Aflac's expanding commitment to address an unmet need

In 2018, Aflac teamed up with research and design studio Sproutel to create My Special Aflac Duck® — a robotic companion that authorized professionals can order for free and give to pediatric cancer patients to help them cope with often challenging treatments. My Special Aflac Duck is designed with unique features to provide comfort and joy to all children ages 3+ undergoing such treatment through interactive technology and medical play.

In 2020, with the notion of expanding the program to children with sickle cell disease, Aflac distributed My Special Aflac Ducks to 100+ sickle cell disease patients through a pilot program at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. At the same time, research was conducted to determine how to adapt My Special Aflac Duck for children with blood disorders and inform the expansion of its program to sickle cell disease patients with updates and coping mechanisms to help meet their unique needs, including features to:

  • Help kids recognize that they’re not alone in their lived experience.
  • Create positive associations with the treatment regimens to inspire adherence both in and out of the home.
  • Provide coping mechanisms anytime, anywhere, for anyone.

Coming in 2022, Aflac aims to debut the fully customized My Special Aflac Duck with physical accessories specifically designed for distribution to sickle cell disease patients at participating facilities across the country. These tailored resources will include new physical tools, accessories and digital experiences via the duck's sickle cell disease app mode and custom packaging specific to sickle cell patients. See these new resources for sickle cell patients.

Sign up here in advance to receive an email when My Special Aflac Duck and its newly developed tools and app features are available for children with sickle cell.