What is Sickle Cell Anemia? Is it leukemia, cancer, can it be caught through contact, same as a cold? NO! Sickle Cell is a condition, which is inherited from both parents. A person that has Sickle Cell inherits abnormal hemoglobin (Hb) from both parents who may be carriers with the sickle cell trait or with sickle cell disease. .
Sickle Cell affects the red blood cells, which contain the special protein called hemoglobin (Hb), which is responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to the body. When sickle hemoglobin loses its oxygen to the tissues, it sticks together to form long rods inside the red blood cells. This gives the cells a rigid and sickle-shaped. Normal red blood cells, which are donut shaped, have the ability to bend and flex easily allowing them to move freely through blood vessels. Because of their shape, sickle red blood cells have a difficult time moving through small blood vessels as normal shaped cells. This contributes to the small blood vessels getting blocked, which then stops the oxygen from getting through to where it is needed. This in turn can lead to severe pain and damage to organs and over time these crises can cause Sickle Cell sufferers to experience damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs, heart and spleen, Which may result in death.
Another problem with red blood cells that contain sickle hemoglobin is they do not live as long as normal (non-sickle) hemoglobin (120 days) and this results in a chronic state of anemia. Even with chronic state of anemia, a person with sickle cell disorder can live a normal life with some modification. .
Everyone has two copies of the gene for hemoglobin, one from their mother and one from their father. If one of these genes carries the instructions to make sickle hemoglobin (HbS) and the other carries the instructions to make normal hemoglobin (HbA) then the person will develop the Sickle Cell Trait and is a carrier of the sickle hemoglobin gene.