There are three times more patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) than cystic fibrosis (CF) in the USA, yet SCD receives 10 times less research funding than CF. In this interview, Sonia Wolf, MD, from Barts Health NHS Trust, London, UK discusses her Crucible Prize-winning presentation titled Young, Black and Stigmatised: how haematologists harm patients with sickle cell disease. Dr Wolf explains how misconceptions healthcare professionals have about patients with SCD may influence the care given, and how hematologists can cause harm in three key ways: admitting patients for excessive durations, administering opioids inappropriately and failing to ensure sufficient psychological support. Though it may be difficult to fully address, Dr Wolf emphasizes that solutions are achievable, and gives a message to the hematological community: advocate for SCD patients by fighting for funding, perceive them as individuals and adopt a multidisciplinary approach. Dr Wolf was speaking at the British Society for Haematology (BSH) 2018 Annual Meeting in Liverpool, UK.