Children get Sickle Cell Disease when two sickle cell genes are passed down from each parent. Those who inherit only one sickle cell gene have the Sickle Cell Trait (SCT) i.e they inherit one gene to make normal hemoglobin (A) and another gene to make sickle cell hemoglobin (S).
People with the genotype AS- although carriers of the SCT- do not experience any symptoms of Sickle Cell Disease. Regardless, they can pass it on to their own children.
Globally, about 300,000 children are born with sickle cell disease each year, and over 75% of them are in Sub-Saharan Africa making it the most common genetic disease in the continent.
In Nigeria, the carrier prevalence or the SCT ranges up to 30% of the total population.
Unlike normal red blood cells which are round and can flow freely, sickle cell disease results in red blood cells that are sickle or crescent-shaped. This can either lead to:
- The red blood cells breaking/dying earlier than healthy ones, leading to a shortage in cells or;
- Their clumping together and sticking to blood vessels, obstructing blood flow and oxygen delivery to organs.
The above can cause extreme pain, known as “crisis” and can lead to organ/tissue damage and even stroke.
You can save a life by donating blood because patients with sickle cell disease sometimes need blood transfusions. Simply visit any blood donation centre near you to learn more about how you can do so.
Breathing problems are also very common in people with sickle cell disease, placing them at a much higher risk of contracting COVID-19. General guidelines should be adhered to, to guard against it. The CDC also advises to stock up on essential medicines that can last for a few weeks and also advises family members/caregivers to take extra precautions to avoid bringing COVID-19 home.
Sickle cell Disease can be cured for some patients through a bone marrow transplant. However, because of the serious risks it poses, it may not be a good option for everyone.
A person with sickle cell disease can live a long healthy life and lower their chances of difficulties by getting regular checkups at the hospital; taking appropriate medications as prescribed; and maintaining healthy practices e.g. washing hands, drinking enough water and eating healthy food.
Knowing your genotype is super important in reducing the incidence of Sickle cell disease. Do you know your genotype? Do you know your partner’s genotype? Do a blood test to find out!
Let’s create as much awareness as we can. If you learned something from this post, kindly like and share so others can learn too!
In the spirit of sickle cell day, we celebrate all those living with sickle cell disease and wish you good health and a long life.
In terms of management, is the condition easier on the males or the females?
Hi @Divine-Favour, thanks for your question
So according to a research paper I read on “gender differences among sickle cell patients”, I believe- although severe in both sexes- the severity might be slightly higher in males than females. Females produce more amounts of Nitric Oxide (which is responsible for vasodilation) because of the high amounts of estrogen our bodies produce. Aside from that, other studies have proven that morbidity in males is higher, and that pain attacks during crises in males are higher than that of females after age 15.
Hi! First timer here👋🏽
This is a nice post and as someone who has lost friends to sickle cell disease, I’m interested in raising awareness as well.
A lot of people with this condition don’t speak about it because there’s also a lot of health-related stigma that comes with it, beginning as early as childhood. Let’s do our part to eliminate the stigma.
If you are a person living with sickle cell disease and you’re reading this, I wish you courage, strength and good health.
Hi and welcome to Aphen @Ebun
Thank you for your lovely contriution
Are there different types of sickle cell disease?
Really good article
There’s a lot of stigma attached to sickle cell which is significantly detrimental to the fight to tackle this head on. It’s really good to see that discussions and awareness on this matter is improving.
Hi @tofarati welcome to Aphen!
Yes there are different kinds of sickle cell disease.
- HbSS (also known as sickle cell anaemia) is the most severe kind. It happens when a person inherits a sickle cell gene from each parent.
- For HbSC, the person gets a sickle cell gene from one parent and a hemoglobin “C” from another.
- Then there’s thalassemia etc
Thanks for your contribution @DMaseli03
Thank you @Doosuur for this great article!
It’s really important for people to be aware of this disease in our society as Nigeria currently has the highest burden of sickle cell in the world.
Another way we can contribute is to donate our time and/or money to organisations raising awareness and helping sickle cell warriors get access to quality healthcare.
@nana.gaje Thanks for the great tips, I completely agree!
Apart from raising awareness on the need for people to know their genotype and discourage stigmatization as some of us have earlier said , I will like to encourage people to who know about genotype and it’s effect to learn to let go of any relationship that will end up with sickle cell children. If you truly love each other you have to learn to let go to prevent such occurance because most times people know but they just brush it up aside like the consequence will never come. so except you have the money for a bone marrow transplant which is one of the ways to treat sickle cell disease or a gene therapy which research is still ongoing and not possible for now in Nigeria, intending partners should find out their genotype on time and do the needful if it could lead to having sickle cell children or child.
@doubleohspage4 I agree! It’s very important to let go of relationships built on genotype incompatibility.
It’s definitely much better to discover early, so that it’s easier to let go.