Sickle Cell Disease…myths and facts
Sickle-cell disease (SCD), also known as sickle-cell anaemia (SCA) and drepanocytosis, is a hereditary blood disorder, characterized by an abnormality in the oxygen-carrying haemoglobin molecule in red blood cells. This leads to a propensity for the cells to assume an abnormal, rigid, sickle-like shape under certain circumstances. Sickle-cell disease is associated with a number of acute and chronic health problems, such as severe infections, attacks of severe pain (“sickle-cell crisis”), and stroke, and there is an increased risk of death.
Sickle-cell disease occurs when a person inherits two abnormal copies of the haemoglobin gene, one from each parent. Several subtypes exist, depending on the exact mutation in each haemoglobin gene. A person with a single abnormal copy does not experience symptoms and is said to have sickle-cell trait. Such people are also referred to as carriers.
What causes the Red Blood Cells to be Sickle?
Red blood cells contain an iron-rich protein called hemoglobin (HEE-muh-glow-bin). This protein carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Sickle cells contain abnormal hemoglobin called sickle hemoglobin or hemoglobin S. Sickle hemoglobin causes the cells to develop a sickle, or crescent, shape
What causes Sickle Cell Disease?
Sickle cell disease is caused by a genetic abnormality in the gene for hemoglobin, which results in the production of sickle hemoglobin. When oxygen is released from sickle hemoglobin, it sticks together and forms long rods, which damage and change the shape of the red blood cell.
They differ in the type and severity of health problems but all have an underlying issue with anemia and crescent-shaped cells.
3 most common types:
- Sickle Cell Anemia (Hemoglobin SS Disease)
- Sickle-Hemoglobin C Disease (Hemoglobin SC Disease)
- Sickle Beta-Thalassemia
Myths and Fact Of Sickle Cell Disease
- Malaria. I have heard from lots of people that malaria does not come upon sickle cell sufferers and I am always amazed as there is no basis for such statement. That the cell is sickle neither stops the bite nor hinder the transmission of the plasmodium parasite. Fact is they are more prone to malaria than the normal individuals
- Pain. That they all go through the same pain. This is not true. The pains are more severe in some than others. Please do not treat two people in same manner.
- All patients will die during childhood from Sickle Cell complications. This is not scientifically true and varies from patient to patient. Consistent treatment and a healthy diet can produce favorable outcomes.
- There is a cure. There is no cure. However Bone Marrow Transplant is promising for some patients if there is a donor match available.
- It is contagious. Sickle Cell Anemia is a genetic disease and can not be transferred from person to person…it is in your genetic makeup. Your DNA.
- Sickle Cell Disease only affects blacks or African American. Fact is anyone can inherit Sickle Cell but it is most common in African-American due to its origin on the continent of Africa.
- Sickle Cell Trait is Sickle Cell Disease. Fact is Sickle Cell Trait is not an illness, but in rare cases some persons have experienced blood in their urine, and “crisis/pain episode” after exposure to high altitudes. Persons with trait do have some sickle-shaped cells in their blood. Both parents must pass along the trait in order for a child to have the disease.
- The Jaundice Myth .Jaundice is one of the symptoms of Sickle Cell anaemia, nonetheless, it is under probability that a Sickle Cell Patient would have Jaundice.
- The Genotype Myth. Sometimes the possibility of having all children with Sickle Cell (the SS genotype) is a 100%. Sometimes it is a 75%. Sometimes a 50%.
What Is Your Duty?
- Show EMPATHY to the patients.
- Know your GENOTYPE
- Get EDUCATED and EDUCATE others
- Support A SICKLE CELL patient of foundation today
- As you hang out with that handsome guy or cute babe, ask to know his/her GENOTYPE before you start it at all. BREAK THE SICKLE CYCLE
Finally, here is an appeal to save a soul. As part of the crisis this patients go through, other forms or types of illness surface.
Bakare Abidemi, is a Sickle Cell Patient in need of your help to walk again! He was diagnosed with Arthritis of both knee and AVN (Avascular necrosis) of the hip! Ever since, he has been bedridden and needs your help to undergo a surgery that would make him walk again!
Afolabi Bakare, FCMB, 0259201019
support a sickle cell free generation.