Sickle Cell Disease: What You Should Know
Today, nations across the globe will celebrate World Sickle Cell Day to spread awareness about this inherited disease. Here in East Tennessee, some of our neighbors are dealing with this diagnosis every day of the year.
What is it? Sickle cell disease occurs when a child's red blood cells (RBC) are shaped like the letter C. Usually, RBCs are shaped like doughnuts and move easily through blood vessels. When they are sickle shaped, they can get stuck in narrow blood vessels and block the flow of blood.
Who gets sickle cell disease? The disease can occur in people across the globe. In the U.S., African-Americans are more likely to be born with sickle cell disease.
Does it hurt? Yes. When the RBCs get stuck in the blood vessels, they cause pain and can lead to organ damage.
Is there a cure? Yes, patients can receive a bone marrow transplant if they have a very severe case of sickle cell disease. Most patients use medicine every day for pain and have blood transfusions to help and the anemia sickle cell disease may cause.
At Children's Hospital, we treat patients with sickle cell disease in our pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic. Watch the video below to meet one of our patients: