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Sickle Cell Anemia

            Sickle cell anemia is an autonomic recessive disorder in which abnormal hemoglobin leads to chronic hemolytic anemia along with periodic episodes of pain. The mutation in hemoglobin sickle cell anemia is a blood condition primarily affecting people of African ancestry. It has been researched and proven that the error in the hemoglobin gene results from a genetic mutation that occurred many thousands of years ago in people in parts of Africa, the Mediterranean basin, the Middle East, and India. It is associated with being immune to malaria, a parasitic blood disease that is carried and contracted by infected mosquitoes. Since malaria is mostly found in hot, moist areas in West Africa and the Mediterranean, people originating from that area produced an immunity to towards malaria, but with consequences (Bloom). The individual will not contract malaria because the mutation in his/her genes quickly fight off the disease by changing the shape and composition make-up of the blood cell so the parasites will not be able to survive in it (Van Cleve, Lemerond). The consequence of this is that because the individual's blood cells mutate and become misshaped, becoming "moon crescent" or "sickle-shaped", the blood cells then grows and becomes to big to pass through most blood vessels, mostly capillaries and veins, which causes it to form a clumped together mass. The blood vessel where this happens is mostly associated with the joints and the lungs. Unlike normal red blood cells, which last about 120 days in the bloodstream, sickled red cells die after only about 10 to 20 days. Because they cannot be replaced fast enough, the blood is chronically short of red blood cells, a condition called anemia. When this happens, the child or adult experiences great amounts of pain, making it almost impossible for them to ambulate. The joints get swollen and red. Another condition is that the clump of misshaped blood cells still can travel to the vessels of the heart but cause a blockage there also.

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