WHAT IS SICKLE CELL DISEASE?
Sickle Cell Disease is an inherited, non-contagious blood disorder in which red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body are sticky and shaped like sickles or a crescent. When the flow of blood is obstructed it causes excruciating pain and even death.
Normal red blood cells are disc-shaped and look like doughnuts without holes in the center. They move easily through
your blood vessels. Red blood cells contain an iron-rich protein called hemoglobin (HEE-muh-glow-bin). This protein
carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.
Sickle cells contain abnormal hemoglobin called sickle hemoglobin or hemoglobin S. Sickle hemoglobin causes the cells
to develop a sickle, or crescent, shape.
Because sickle cells are stiff and sticky, they tend to block blood flow in the blood vessels of the limbs and organs. Blocked blood flow can cause pain and organ damage. It can also raise the risk for infection. Sickle Cell Disease prevents oxygen
from reaching the spleen, liver, kidneys, lungs, heart, or other organs, causing a lot of damage. Without oxygen,
the cells that make up these organs will begin to die.
There are several different types of Sickle Cell Disease also referred to as Sickle Cell Anemia:
SICKLE CELL SS
SICKLE CELL SC
SICKLE CELL SB - THALASSMIA
SICKLE CELL BETA-ZERO THALASSMIA
SICKLE CELL TRAIT
A simple blood test call hemoglobin electrophoresis can be done by your doctor to test for the sickle cell trait.
In the United States, all States mandate testing for Sickle Cell as part of their newborn screening programs. It's also possible for doctors to diagnose Sickle Cell before birth using a sample of amniotic fluid or tissue taken from the placenta. (Amniotic Fluid is the fluid in the sac surrounding a growing embryo. The placenta is the organ that attaches the umbilical cord to the mother's womb.) This test can be done as early as the first few months of pregnancy.
It is important to know whether or not you have sickle cell trait even if you don’t have any symptoms.
Due to the growing number of interracial relationships Sickle Cell is in many nationalities including
African Americans, White, Arabs, Greeks, Italians, Asians, Latin Americans and people from India.
Sickle Cell is a group of inherited blood cell disorders, and is the MOST COMMON genetic disease in
Two parents with Sickle Cell Trait have a 1 in 4 chance of having a child with Sickle Cell Disease.
2 Parents with Sickle Cell Trait that birth 4 children - 1 child will have Sickle Cell Disease, 2 children will have Sickle Cell Trait, and 1 child will be born without either.
Nothing is guaranteed, EVERY TIME a child is born to 2 parents with Sickle Cell Trait there is a possibility that child will be born with Sickle Cell Disease.
1 out of every 500 African American births
1 out of every 36,000 Hispanic American Births
Sickle Cell Trait occurs in approximately 1 in 12 African Americans
Blood transfusions that provide a patient with healthy red blood cells are a common treatment.
People with more severe cases of the disease can be treated with a bone marrow transplant.
This procedure provides the patient with healthy red blood cells from a donor, ideally from a sibling. Unlike normal red blood cells, which can live for 120 days, sickle-shaped cells live only 10 to 20 days.
For more information about Sickle Cell Disease visit the following locations:
The K.I.S. Foundation, Inc.
13351-D Riverside Drive, Suite 178
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Inc.
231 E. Baltimore Street, Suite 800
Baltimore, MD 21202
Toll Free 800-421-8453