What is sickle cell disease? Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a group of blood disorders that can be very serious. It is a genetic disorder. Both parents must pass on an abnormal gene for a child to be born with the disease. Hemoglobin SS is the most common type of sickle cell disease in the U.S. Common types of sickle cell disease also include Hemoglobin SC, and Sickle-beta Thalassemia.
Sickle cell disease affects the hemoglobin part of the blood. Hemoglobin carries oxygen throughout the body. Normal red blood cells are round, soft, smooth, and move easily throughout the body. Sickle red blood cells become hard, sticky, and look like a sick or banana. When the sickle cells travel through blood vessels, they can get stuck and clump together (I call it a traffic jam). Once this happens a pain crisis will occur.
Does anyone in your family have sickle cell trait or sickle cell disease? Sickle cell disease affects people of all different racial and ethnic backgrounds. For this reason, in most U.S. hospitals, all babies are now screened at birth for sickle cell disease. Parents should ask for that report.
You may hear someone say, I have the sickle cell trait. What is sickle cell trait? People who have the sickle cell trait, inherit the normal hemoglobin A gene from one parent and an abnormal hemoglobin S gene from the other parent. Sickle cell trait is a genetic carrier condition and is only diagnosed with a special blood test such as Hemoglobin Electrophoresis.
Are there health problems associated with sickle cell trait? People with sickle cell trait usually do not have health problems caused by the trait. However, people with sickle cell trait may have problems under certain conditions such as: exhaustion, dehydration, and hypoxia (low oxygen).
Why is it important to know your Sickle Cell status? It is important because if both parents have the skill cell trait, they have a 25 percent (1-in-4) chance with each pregnancy of bearing child with Hemoglobin SS disease (SCD). Educating our children is very important. Once they know about the SCD trait they can have that conversation with a potential spouse.
Sickle Cell awareness is advocated every day, but September is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month. Tapestry Connections is celebrating National Sickle Cell Awareness Month by distributing “Care Packages” to our sickle cell warriors and their families. We want them to know that we are here to help and support them in various ways.
You can help us celebrate by becoming a blood donor. Blood is very important to the sickle cell community. Download the American Red Cross app to donate. We always need supporters and volunteers. For more information email Tapestry Connections at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 912-977-3280.
Dr. Deloris Mitchell
Director Tapestry Connections Inc. - Hinesville