History of Sickle Cell

By: Lauren Bacchus and Ellie Butler

What is Sickle Cell?

Sickle Cell Anemia is an inherited red blood cell disorder. When affected by this disorder, red blood cells become crescent moon shaped instead of disc shaped. Sickle cell is a group of disorders which affects the hemoglobin protein in red blood cells.

What is Sickle Cell Anemia? www.fudgefoundation.com

Who Discovered Sickle Cell?

In 1910 a man named Walter Clement Noel was studying dentistry in Chicago. He went to Dr. James B. Herrick because of pain episodes and anemia, a lack of blood. Herrick wasn't interested in the case because he was a cardiologist and sent Noel to Dr. Ernest Irons. Irons examined Noel's blood and observed his red blood cells "having the shape of a sickle". This disease was unknown until Dr. Irons published a paper in the medical journal.

What is Hemoglobin?

Hemoglobin is a molecule in red bloods which collects oxygen from the lungs and releases it when the red blood cells reach other parts of the body.

Different Names

Sickle cell anemia has many different names some of them are HBS disease, hemoglobin S disease, SCD, sickling disorder due to hemoglobin S, and sickle cell disorder.

Percent of people who have it and where it is found

Sickle Cell is the most common inherited blood disorder. Affects about 70,000 to 80,000 Americans, 1 in 500 African Americans, and 1 in 1,000 to 1,400 Hispanic Americans. Sickle-Cell Anemia is found in Greece, Turkey, Italy, India, Arabian Peninsula, South America, Central America, and Caribbean.


The signs begin early in childhood. The symptoms are: fatigue, many infections, shortness of breath, delayed growth, yellowing of eyes and skin, pain, organ damage of lungs, spleen, kidney, and brain, high blood pressure in blood vessels that lead to the lungs, and heart failure. The symptoms vary depending on the person.

Sickle Cell Microscope Slide

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Interesting facts

The cells become sticky and hard and look take a c-shaped form. Cannot carry regular load of oxygen. These cells can block the flow of blood into tissues, organs and cause pain, infections, and serious damage to organs. Sickle cell anemia is only one kind of sickle-cell disease. Caused by low number of red blood cells. Sickle cells live only about 10 to 20 days instead of 120 which is the average age of normal and healthy blood cells.
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As of right now, The only treatment for sickle cell is Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant. Stem cells can reproduce over and over again. Stem cells are taken from the donor during HSCT, and the cells are injected into the patient's blood. Soon enough, the cells will find a home in the bone marrow. The new stem cells will create healthy red blood cells.