What is Sickle Cell Disease?

Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder that affects red blood cells. The severe form of sickle cell disease is estimated to affect more than 100,000 African-Americans. This disease causes the body to create abnormal hemoglobin, called hemoglobin S. Hemoglobin is the oxygen carrying protein found in red blood cells.Abnormal hemoglobin “S” sticks together,causing red blood cells to become stiff and form a “sickle” shape. These sickle cells block blood flow when they become stuck in blood vessels. More African-Americans suffer from this disease than any other race

Types of Sickle Cell Disease:

There are several types of sickle cell disease.
The most common are:

• sickle cell anemia (SS); sickle-hemoglobin C disease (SC)

• sickle beta-plus thalassemia and sickle beta-zero thalassemia

How do you Get Sickle Cell Disease?

Sickle cell conditions are inherited from both parents in much the same way as blood type, hair color and texture, eye color, and other physical traits.

Examples:
• If one parent has sickle cell anemia and the other is normal, all of the children will have sickle cell trait.
• If one parent has sickle cell anemia and the other has sickle cell trait, there is a 50% chance (or 1 in 2) of having a baby with either sickle cell disease or sickle cell trait with each pregnancy.
• When both parents have sickle cell trait, they have a 25% chance (1 of 4) of having a baby with sickle cell disease with each pregnancy.
• If both parents have sickle cell disease, all their children will have sickle cell disease.

Who is Affected by Sickle Cell
Disease?

Sickle cell disease affects millions of people
throughout the world. It is common in people
whose origins are:
• African
• Mediterranean
• Arabian
• Indian (Asian)
People with sickle cell conditions predominantly
live in countries in Africa, the Americas (North,
Central and South), the Caribbean region,
Mediterranean region, the Middle East, India, and
Western Europe.
In the United States, sickle cell disease affects:
• 1 in approximately 400 African-American
newborns
• 1 in approximately 36,000 Hispanic-American
newborns
About 2 million Americans carry the sickle cell
“trait” (which means they don’t have the disease
themselves but could potentially pass it on to
their children). About 1 in 12 African-Americans
has the sickle cell trait. (sickle cell trait cannot
develop into sickle cell disease).

Problems Associated with Sickle Cell Disease

Most people with sickle cell disease have pain and have experience some of these problems: strokes, anemia, organ damage, chest pains, pneumonia, gallstones, slowed growth and delayed puberty in children, blood in urine, serious infections, and non-healing wounds.

How is Sickle Cell Disease Treated?

People with sickle cell disease generally receive treatment in two ways: medications to prevent sickling or blood transfusions to replace red blood cells. While normal red blood cells have a 120-day life span, sickle-shaped cells usually live for no more than 20 days.

Blood transfusions increase the number of normal red blood cells in circulation, helping to relieve anemia. Children with sickle cell anemia are at high risk of stroke, and regular blood transfusions can decrease that risk.

More than half of all sickle cell patients will require a blood transfusion in their lifetime; the majority will require multiple transfusions. Monthly transfusions of 1-2 units are used to prevent strokes in young patients. An adult may need 6-10 units to treat a sudden sickle cell crisis.

African-American Donors

It’s important that blood donors reflect the ethnic diversity of the patients who receive their blood. Since children with sickle cell disease often need many blood transfusions, it is best for them to receive blood that very closely matches their own. Patients with sickle cell disease — primarily in the African-American community — are less likely to have complications from blood donated by African-Americans.

How to donate

To make an appointment for a blood donation or for more information call The Blood Alliance at 888-99-TBA-HERO, or visit our website at www.igiveblood.com.

Donor  Program Coordinator Contact Info:

Pat Randolph
   Cell: 904-610-0049
email: prandolph@thebloodalliance.org