About Sickle Cell Anemia
Sickle cell disease is an inherited disorder that affects between 70,000 to 100,000 Americans. Normal red blood cells are round like doughnuts and move through the bloodstream to deliver oxygen throughout the body. Sickle red blood cells become hard, sticky and take on a sickle or crescent shape as indicated by the pictures above.
When these hard and pointed red cells go through small blood vessels, they clog the bloodstream and can break apart. This can cause severe pain, damage to organs and a low blood count, or anemia. Patients can suffer severe pain called pain crises at any time. This pain, if not well managed, can lead to days in the hospital for some patients until the pain subsides.
Two million people in the United States carry the sickle cell trait according to the Centers for Disease Control. This means that 1 in 12 African Americans has the sickle cell trait. In the United States, more than 1,000 babies are born with Sickle Cell Disease each year. Worldwide, sickle cell disease is most common in people from India, Africa, the Mediterranean, Central and South America. Caucasians can also have Sickle Cell Anemia and carry the trait.