Sickle cell disease is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders that affect haemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen through the body. The condition affects more than 20 million people worldwide. Sickle cell disease (SCD) is the most common genetic disorder worldwide.
How does someone get sickle cell?
To be born with sickle cell disease, a child has to inherit a copy of the sickle cell gene from both their parents. This usually happens when both parents are “carriers” of the sickle cell gene, also known as having the sickle cell trait.
How was it formed?
Research shows that the mutation causing sickle cell disease arose in Africa thousands of years ago to help protect against malaria, a historically major cause of death there. Scientists believe the sickle cell gene appeared and disappeared in the population several times, but became permanently established after a particularly vicious form of malaria jumped from animals to humans in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.
How to manage?
How people without sickle cell can help?
Encourage a healthy lifestyle, this is something we should all do but extremely important for those battling with chronic health conditions.
Many people with sickle cell need blood transfusions. These help to reduce and prevent a severe crisis, but to get the best treatment, patients need blood from a donor of the same ethnicity.
Check out our #ChangeTheRecords Campaign to find out more about donating blood.