By Melissa Noel

Grammy-nominated songwriter and music producer, Nana Kwabena has helped create hits for many notable artists including John Legend, Rick Ross and fellow Wondaland label mates Janelle Monae and Jidenna. However, his musical genius and path to the entertainment industry began in one of the most unlikely places—a hospital.

The 31-year-old was diagnosed with sickle cell disease at a young age and says that he spent so much of his childhood in and out of medical facilities; it often felt like he was raised in the hospital.

As a teenager, complications from the disease often meant that Kwabena was in the hospital for up to two months at a time. The musician says he remembers feeling like the beeps of the machines in his room were creating ‘a soundtrack of death’ and he had to do something to change it.

He taught himself how to use the music production program Fruity Loops and started to create his own songs. “I had to create my own music to drown out the noise of those beeps and blips,” he said.

After that experience Kwabena says he knew he wanted to pursue music and at the same time shed light on sickle cell disease.
Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder that affects people of all races and ethnicities in countries around the world.

However, the disease is particularly common among people of African, Hispanic and Caribbean descent. The blood cells of a person with the disease become sickle-shaped (crescent shaped) and have difficulty passing through small blood vessels. This blockage prevents normal blood flow and oxygen from reaching vital organs and can cause severe pain, infections, organ failure, stroke or even death.

Although the disease is the most common hereditary blood disorder in the United States, afflicting an estimated 100,000 Americans as well as millions of people throughout the world, it is often referred to as “the forgotten disease” because it lags behind similar diseases in research funding and media attention.

In 2012, Kwabena founded the nonprofit advocacy organization AllOneBlood to help increase public awareness as well as funds for the millions of people living with sickle cell disease. The organization has partnered with celebrities, hospitals and other organizations in order to bring this “forgotten disease” to the forefront.

Read the entire story here.

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