Sickle cell disease is a common, inherited red blood disorder. Throughout their lives, individuals with sickle cell disease can suffer a range of conditions, including acute anemia, tissue and organ damage, terrible pain and even strokes.
- Red blood cells carry oxygen to all parts of the body through a substance called hemoglobin. Normal red blood cells are soft, round, and can squeeze through tiny blood vessels.
- People with sickle cell disease have red blood cells that contain mostly hemoglobin S, an abnormal hemoglobin type. These red blood cells are stiff, distorted in shape (like a sickle) and sometimes block small blood vessels.This is what causes the complications of sickle cell disease and why blood transfusions from people with healthy red blood cells can help.
- You can’t catch sickle cell disease, but for patients born with it, there is currently no widely used cure.