Sickle Cell Anemia

By Sharif Rashed- Get down with the sickle-ness

Description of the disease

When a person inherits the sickle cell trait, some of their blood cells stiffen up to take the shape of a sickle- hence the name. The blood cells stiffen due to a certain hemoglobin (hemoglobin S).

Why is it dangerous?

Affected blood cells clump together and clog blood vessels, restricting oxygen from getting to organs and tissues, like the kidneys, spleen or liver, and even the lungs. Because of the blockages, people who are affected can have swollen feet or hands and gallstones.

How is it inherited?

The sickle cell hemoglobin is a recessive autosomal allele. However, if it's heterozygous with another abnormal hemoglobin, some symptoms may show- though it wouldn't be as severe as if it was homozygous.

The hemoglobin can be passed by carriers and those affected by sickle cell anemia. Carriers are described with a "sickle cell trait."

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Blood tests check for hemoglobin S. In the U.S., the blood test is routine for a newborn screening at the hospital.

Sickle Cell anemia is most common in people of African descent, including African-Americans. It is also common in Hispanic Americans, and people of Middle eastern, Asian, Indian, and Mediterranean descent.


Icky pictures>>>

  • Swelling of the hands and feet
  • Lung, spleen, and liver blood blockage
  • Kidney damage
  • Yellowish skin and eyes
  • Delayed growth
  • Fatigue


Unfortunately, there is no cure. However, treatment does help. Medications, blood transfusions, and bone marrow transplant (which is rare) are all possible treatments.

Life expectancy?

In 1973, the life expectancy of someone with SCA was only 14 years old. Now, with new treatments and medications, the life expectancy for patients is 50 years minimum.

Patients with SCA tire easily, so they avoid tiring activities. Patients must drink extra water for avoiding dehydration. The weight of SCA on a patient's back can cause depression or anxiety, as well.

Our Story: Living with and Managing Sickle Cell Disease (Nicholas H.)