Sickle cell disease(SCD) is an inherited red blood cell disorder affecting people of all races, not just African Americans.
Although 8 to 10 percent of African Americans carry sickle cell trait, 1 to 3 million Americans have this disorder. It is more common in people of African descent, but the sickle cell trait can also affect Hispanics, South Asians, Caucasians from southern Europe, as well as people from Middle Eastern countries.
In sickle cell disease, healthy red blood cells are round, and they move through small blood vessels to carry oxygen to all parts of the body.
In someone who has sickle cell disease, the red blood cells become hard and sticky and look like a C-shaped farm tool called a “sickle.” The sickle cells die early, which causes a constant shortage of red blood cells.
In order for someone to have sickle cell disease, they must have two genes that cause abnormal hemoglobin, people with sickle cell trait will only have one abnormal gene.
It can also cause pain.
Pain is the most common complication of SCD. When sickle cells travel through small blood vessels, they can get stuck and prevent blood flow and oxygen from reaching vital organs. This causes pain that can start suddenly, be mild to severe, and can last for any length of time.
More than 3 million people in the United States have the sickle cell trait, meaning they carry the sickle cell gene that allows them potentially to pass the disease on to their children if their partner also has sickle cell trait. Worldwide, more than