In Focus

Profile of the late Prof. Kwaku Ohene-Frempong, President of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Ghana

Born in Kukurantumi, Ghana, Kwaku Ohene-Frempong, M.D., arrived in the United States in 1966 to attend Yale University.

Prior to coming to Yale, Kwaku Ohene-Frempong, who is an International Scholar Athlete Hall of Famer, an Amanfoo alumnus, and was described by ivyleaguesports.com as “Renaissance Man,” served as the Senior Prefect of the Prempeh College, where he did both his Ordinary and Advanced-level secondary school studies.

It was also at Prempeh that he began his athletic career, winning three national track championships and becoming a Ghana national high school champion in long jump, triple jump, and high hurdles.

At Yale, he captained the Track and Field team and set both indoor and outdoor records in the high hurdles. While at Yale, he continued to compete for Ghana and, in 1970, set a new Ghana record in the 110m high hurdles. This record stood for 26 years and was broken at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.

He received his Bachelor of Science degree in biology in 1970 together with the William Mallory Award for the Best Student-Athlete at Yale. He went on to Yale School of Medicine, from where he graduated in 1975. His doctoral thesis, entitled “Child Health in a Ghanaian Community,” was based on work he did at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (Kumasi) in 1974. After graduating from Yale, he moved to New York City for a residency in paediatrics at the New York Hospital, Cornell Medical Center.

In 1977, he came to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for a three-year fellowship in Pediatric Hematology-Oncology. Upon completion of this subspecialty training, Dr. Ohene-Frempong went to Tulane University, where he established the Sickle Cell Center of Southern Louisiana and served as its first Medical Director. He also became the Director of the Section of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Tulane University School of Medicine.

Dr. Ohene-Frempong returned to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in 1986, becoming the Director of the Sickle Cell Program under the Division of Hematology. In 1988, this Division won a grant from the National Institutes of Health to become one of the nation’s ten Comprehensive Sickle Cell Centers. Dr. Ohene-Frempong was named the Center’s Director in 1990. The Center grant was successfully renewed for 1993-1998, 1998-2003, and again for 2003-2008.

Dr. Ohene-Frempong directed the Center’s pediatric hematologists, nurse specialists, social workers, child psychologists and counselors in the care of more than 600 children and adolescents who had sickle cell disease. In addition to coordinating this patient care, Dr. Ohene-Frempong oversaw the research activities of the Center and conducted research projects. Dr. Ohene-Frempong also tested new treatments for children with sickle cell disease. He also developed a project for testing newborns for sickle cell disease in Ghana.

Dr. Ohene-Frempong served as a member of the Sickle Cell Disease Advisory Committee of the National Institutes of Health (1986-1990) and chaired the Committee in his final two years. In 1991, he was elected President of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, a position that was later renamed the Chief Medical Officer. He completed his 2-term office in 1998. He continued to serve as a member of the National Board of Directors of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America and was elected as Chairman of the Board in September 2003.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) gave Dr. Ohene-Frempong the Silver Anniversary Award in 1975, an award that recognized six distinguished former student-athletes on their 25th anniversary as college graduates. In 1999, he was named an inaugural inductee into the International Scholar Athlete Hall of Fame together with Arthur Ashe, Senator Bill Bradley, Justice Byron White, Paul Robeson, Plato, and others. And in November 2001, as part of Yale University’s 300th Anniversary Celebration, Dr. Ohene-Frempong was selected as one of nine former athletes of Yale as inaugural recipients of the William H. W. Bush Lifetime of Leadership Award.

Dr. Ohene-Frempong was a full-time member of the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, where he was Professor of Pediatrics. He was Board-certified in Pediatrics and Pediatric Hematology-Oncology and was an Attending Hematologist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

In 1993, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health awarded Dr. Ohene-Frempong a research grant to develop a pilot project for Newborn Screening for Sickle Cell Disease in Ghana. The first such screening program in Africa, this international collaborative project was established in Kumasi and Tikrom, a nearby rural town.

Participating institutions include The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, the School of Medical Sciences, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, and the Ministry of Health, Ghana. Prior to the initiation of the screening program, the first sickle cell clinic was inaugurated at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital with ten patients in December 1992. As of December 2003, the project had tested over 158,000 newborn babies in the Kumasi area and enrolled over 2,400 newborns with sickle cell disease in the clinic. Overall, the sickle cell clinic had grown to more than 8,000 patients by September 2003.

Dr. Ohene-Frempong was married to Janet, and they lived in Elkins Park, PA. They have two children, Kwame (who died in 2021) and Afia.

He died on May 7, 2022.

Ghana Physicians and Surgeons Foundation Of North America (GPSF) is preparing a video collage and tributes for Professor Kwaku Ohene-Frempong.
|
Target: Friends, family, colleagues, classmates, students, residents, patients and anyone whose life was touched by his work.

Video

1. Place your iPhone or phone in LANDSCAPE mode.

2. Please record a 20 to 30 second video of yourself and say what you knew of Prof or what he did for you.

3. Hit your share or upload button and send to: missena28@gmail.com

Pictures

4. Solo pictures of him alone, or pictures of two of you or him in a group picture can be sent to:

missena28@gmail.com and ghanaphysiciansusa@gmail.com

5. Write ups can be sent to ghanaphysiciansusa@gmail.com.

Send them by Tuesday, May 17, 2022, 12 midnight Eastern Time.

Acknowledgement: Ivyleaguesports.com, internationalsport.com, Dr. Ohene-Frempong

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button