In his native Ghana, Dr. Ohene-Frampong has set up a pilot program to screen for sickle cell anemia in newborns in the southern city of Kumasi. It was the first such program in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to identifying children with the disease, the program referred them to specialized clinics that provided treatment with antibiotics to prevent infections, routine vaccinations, and a hydroxyurea drug that could reduce the risk of complications from the sickle cell system..
Kwaku Ohene-Fremong was born on March 13, 1946 in Cucurantum, in eastern Ghana, to Kwasi Adde Ohene and Advoi Idi Boafu. His father was a cocoa producer and a famous member of the royal family.
Kwaku attended Prempeh College Boarding School, then entered Yale University, where he majored in biology and was captain of the athletics team, setting records indoors and outdoors in high barriers. As a student, he met Janet Williams, who studied at Cornell University. They married on June 6, 1970, a week after both graduated.
Dr. Ochen-Frampong said in an interview in 2019 that he first learned about the sickle cell when he and some friends attended a lecture on the disease in Yale. When he sat and listened, he said he suddenly recognized the disease: it was in his family but not diagnosed. One of his cousins had symptoms and died at age 14.
“He was in pain,” he said of his cousin. “He had very yellow eyes and he was very thin.”
Dr. Ochen-Frampong continued his medical school at Yale College, then went to New York’s Weill-Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan for residency. He studied pediatric hematology at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia before moving to Tulein University School of Medicine, where he was an associate professor of pediatrics.
During his six years at Tulein, he founded a medical facility at the Tuleine Sickle Cell Center in Southern Louisiana and helped the state Department of Health develop a program to screen newborns for the disease.
In 1986, Dr. Ochen-Frampong returned to the Children’s Hospital and stayed there for 30 years before going full-time to Ghana, to the Kumasi Sickle Cell Disease Research and Treatment Center. He was still there when he returned to Philadelphia for cancer treatment.