ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The coronavirus is causing concerns around the globe.

  • Everyday Hero Dr. Leila Clay is in charge of the sickle cell program at John Hopkins All Children's Hospital
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But it is also giving us all an opportunity to celebrate what medical professionals do every day, normally without the presence of a pandemic.

A Bay area doctor who's made big progress on another disease which threatens thousands of Americans is our latest everyday hero.

Dr. Leila Clay is the director of the sickle cell program in the Johns Hopkins All Children's Cancer & Blood Disorders Institute.

She began work there two years ago with impressive credentials.

“I’m internal medicine and pediatrics trained,” said Clay. “And I sub-specialized in hematology and oncology.”

Dr, Clay has plenty to say about sickle cell issues and the fight to treat it.

“In African-Americans, we see one in 365 patients can have sickle cell disease,” she said. “One in 13 african-americans carry the sickle cell trait, in Hispanics, usually one in 12,000 can have the disease.”

She added that caucasians can get the disease as well.

Clay was born in Haiti and physicians run in her family with her father and uncle both doctors.

But it was her aunt, Dr. Josette Kedo Miguel, who may have had the strongest influence.

“I saw a young woman in a male dominated field,” Clay said. “(She) really was the boss. She had her own practice. She called the shots. She performed surgery. She was well known.”

When she was a young girl in Haiti, Clay told her mother what she wanted for her future.

“I think I was 6, possibly, when i was like, ‘I’m definitely going to be a doctor.’ My mom says you always said it.”

And she meant it.

And Clay has greatly succeeded as she continues on the front lines in the treatment of sickle cell disease.