Sickle Cell Anemia
by Miles Eubanks
Where Does It Start?
This mutation is found in the hemoglobin-beta gene and is on chromosome 11.
The Population Affected
This disease is found in Africans, African Americans, Indians, and Mediterranean descended people. About 70,000 people in America are currently affected by the disease.
Sickle red blood cells only live up to a maximum of 20 days while normal blood cells are supposed to be able to live up to 120 days. Also the sickle blood cells (because they are oddly shaped) stick to the side of blood vessels and clump together which makes it easier for people with the trait to get blood clots. A constant amount of blood clots can cause a'lot of damage to the lungs, heart, kidneys, brain and liver, and not to mention severe pain.
How Do You Get The Disease?
You have to inherit two hemoglobin genes in order to receive the sickle cell anemia trait because it is a sex-linked gene. However if you only inherit 1 hemoglobin gene then you are a carrier for the trait and you can pass on the trait if you have a child with someone who also is a carrier but it is still a 50% chance.
What Are Long Term Affects, And Are There Treatments?
There are few affects but they are major, the big one is life expectancy is reduced, also there is lots of pain with blood clots which cause damage to vital organs. So far there is no cure, but there is treatment, the average life expectancy 30 years ago was only 14 for someone who had the trait, and now the average is between 40 to 60 due to treatments in from studies in hydroxyurea.
This athlete is a perfect example of how well treatment for sickle cell anemia is going. Ryan Clark as shown in the image above is a NFL (National Football League) player who has the sickle cell anemia trait and is still performing at a high level of athleticism with it.