Sickle Cell Anemia
Sickle cell anemia is commonly known as a "black disease." Though it is most frequently found in Africans and African Americans, it is also found in people from the Mediterranean region, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and India. Sickle cell anemia is a hereditary blood disorder that causes the bone marrow to produce red blood cells with defective hemoglobin (hemoglobin S). Hemoglobin is the oxygen-carrying substance in red blood cells. Normally, red blood cells are round; hemoglobin S causes red blood cells to become misshaped, or sickle-shaped, when they release oxygen to other tissues in the body. The abnormal form of the hemoglobin, Hb S, that is produced can bind oxygen just as well as the normal hemoglobin, but when the oxygen level is low, the Hb S molecules join to form stiff fibers. These fibers distort the shape of the red blood cells making them long and curved, thus labeling the disorder as sickle cell anemia.
Sickled red blood cells are destroyed faster by the boy than are normal red blood cells. When large numbers of red blood cells are rapidly destroyed by the body, a condition called hemolytic anemia results.
Sickle cell anemia is not contagious and can not be transmitted by germs. Sickle cell anemia is an inherited disorder from parent to child. In order to obtain sickle cell, a child must be born with two defective hemoglobin S genes. A child born with sickle cell trait has inherited one defective gene from one parent, and a normal gene from the other. People who have the sickle cell gene are called carriers. Sickle cell anemia develops in an average of one out of four children parented by two carriers. When one person has the sickle cell trait but the other has normal hemoglobin,