Approximately 70,000 to 100,000 Americans have sickle cell disease. Though rare, it is the the most common form of inherited blood disorders. In Africa, the burden is much higher – Sub-Saharan Africa has an estimated 64% of the 300, 000 people born annually with sickle cell disease in the world, Sickle Cell Day each June 19th provides an opportunity to examine progress and persistent challenges in managing the disease.
Sickle Cell, present in affected individuals at birth, causes the production of abnormal hemoglobin. Normal hemoglobin protein, which resides inside red blood cells, attaches to oxygen in the lungs and carries it to all parts of the body. Healthy red blood cells are flexible enough to move through the smallest blood vessels.
In sickle cell disease, the hemoglobin is abnormal, causing red blood cells to be rigid and shaped like a sickle – the shape from which the disease takes its name. In order for a child to inherit sickle cell disease, both parents must have e