TRIBUTE TO PROF. KWAKU OHENE-FREMPONG (KOF) MD …
Born: 13 March 1946, Kukurantumi, Ghana. Died: 7 May 2022, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
Award: Order of the Volta (2010) An order of merit from the Republic of Ghana. It was instituted in 1960 and is awarded to people for their outstanding service to the country.
Kwaku Ohene-Frempong, MD, Director Emeritus of the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), served as a professor of paediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania. He was a Ghanaian paediatric haematologist and oncologist and an expert in sickle cell disease. At CHOP, he demonstrated the importance of educating mothers and caregivers about monitoring the size of an enlarged spleen from causing harm to the child. KOF said that, “sickle cell is manageable, it is not a death sentence”.
Kwaku was the President of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Ghana. KOF, as he was popularly called, was a highly accomplished, internationally renowned researcher who was very humble. He cared especially for children with sickle cell disease. He established newborn screening for sickle cell disorders in Ghana in 1993, and established many of the current practice standards. He was the National Coordinator for the ASH Consortium on New-born Screening in Africa (CONSA), who was instrumental to obtaining the collaboration with Novartis to screen newborns for SCD in beneficiary countries (June 2022). This partnership with Novartis, “will not only deliver better tools to track a baby’s diagnosis, but also support increase in knowledge on treatment and care”.
KOF was the recipient of the Honorific Award 2021, by the American Society of Hematology (ASH). The ASH Honorific Awards are the Society’s most prestigious awards, with which ASH members recognise exemplary haematologists who have made significant contributions to the field. One of KOF’s achievements was his observation of the frequency of strokes in young children with SCD, and his work was led to the establishment of bone marrow transplant (BMT) as a cure for SCD. In 2020, he was honoured by the US Department of Health and Human Services with the Assistant Secretary of Health Exceptional Services medal for his contribution to the management of sickle cell disease globally.
Kwaku Ohene-Frempong grew up in Ghana, but left to go to Yale University in 1966. He was an outstanding athlete in track-and-field, who competed for Yale University as well as Ghana at the 1970 British Commonwealth Games.
KOF’s wife, Janet Ohene-Frempong, said that her husband was devoted to Ghana and humanity. They met in college, graduated on June 6 1970, and a week later they got married on June 13 1970. She said that KOF was somebody who was truly, truly devoted to his country, Ghana, and humanity and that was why she fell in love with him.
He will be missed by ALL, especially the sickle cell community worldwide. May his gentle soul rest in peace.