Sickle Cell Anemia.

Essay by crakbaby23University, Bachelor'sA, December 2005

download word file, 3 pages 4.0

The erythrocytes of certain individuals possess the capacity to undergo reversible changes in shape in response to changes in the partial pressure of oxygen. When the oxygen pressure is lowered, these cells change their forms from the normal biconcave disk to crescent, holly wreath, and other forms. This process is known as sickling.

What is Sickle Cell Anemia? It is a blood disorder that affects hemoglobin, red blood cells with normal hemoglobin move easily through the bloodstream, delivering oxygen to all of the cells of the body. Normal red blood cells are shaped like doughnuts with the centers partially scooped out and are soft and flexible. Sickle cell anemia occurs when an abnormal form of hemoglobin is produced. HbS molecules tend to clump together, making red blood cells sticky, stiff, and more fragile, and causing them to form into odd curved, sickle shape, red blood cells containing HbS can go back and forth between being shaped normally and being sickle shaped until they eventually become sickle shaped permanently.

Instead of passing through the bloodstream easily, these sickle cells can cause clogging of the blood vessels and deprive the body's tissues and organs of precious oxygen they need to stay healthy.

Usually red blood cells last about 4 months in the bloodstream; fragile sickle cells break down after only about 10 to 20 days, which usually causes anemia. People who suffer from sickle cell anemia usually feel weak, tired and they can also experience complications from poor blood circulation.

According to the California Institute of Technology "Sickle cell anemia is a hereditary disorder that mostly affects people of African ancestry, but also occurs in other ethnic groups, including people who are of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern descent. More than 70,000 Americans suffer from sickle cell anemia. And about 2 million...