In his native Ghana, Dr. Ohen-Frampong established a pilot program to provide sickle cell disease screening among newborns in the southern city of Kumasi. This was the first such program in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to identifying infected children, the program refers them to specialized clinics that offer antibiotics to prevent infection, routine immunizations, and a drug, hydroxyurea, which can reduce the risk of complications from sickle cell..
Kwaku Ohen-Framong was born on March 13, 1946, in Kukurantumi, Ghana. His father was a cocoa farmer and a prominent member of the royal family.
Kwaku attended a boarding school, Premepeh College, then went to Yale University, where he became a major in biology and captain of the track and field team, setting indoor and outdoor records in high odds. While a student, he met Janet Williams, who was studying at Cornell University. They were married on June 6, 1970, a week after they graduated.
Dr. Owen-Frampong said in an interview in 2019 that he first learned about sickle cell when he and some friends attended a lecture on the disease at Yale. When he sat down to listen, he said, he suddenly recognized the disease: it was in his family but not diagnosed. One of his cousins had symptoms and died at the age of 14.
“She was in pain,” he said of his cousin. “Her eyes were very yellow, and she was very skinny.”
Dr. Owen-Frampong continued his studies at Yale Medical School, then moved to New York Hospital Well-Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan for his stay. Prior to attending the Tulane University School of Medicine, he studied pediatric hematology at Philadelphia Children’s Hospital, where he was an associate professor of pediatrics.
During his six years in Tulane, he founded the Tulane Sickle Cell Center, a medical service center in South Louisiana, and helped the state Department of Health create a neonatal-screening program for the disease.
In 1986, Dr. Ohen-Frampong returned to the Children’s Hospital and was there for 30 years before working full-time in Ghana, a research and treatment center at the Kumasi Center for Sickle Cell Disease. He was still there when he returned to Philadelphia for cancer treatment.