How It Got Its Name
The name “Sickle Cell Disease” (SCD), also known as Sickle Cell Anemia, is derived from the C-shaped formation of red blood cells in those who have the disease. This crescent shape of red blood cells resembles a harvesting tool called the sickle.
According to the National Institute of Health, “Sickle cells are stiff and sticky. They tend to block blood flow in the blood vessels of the limbs and organs. Blocked blood flow can cause pain and organ damage. It can also raise the risk for infection.”
How It Is Diagnosed
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes how “SCD is a genetic condition that is present at birth. It is inherited when a child receives two sickle cell genes — one from each parent.” SCD is a lifelong disease that can be present in people of various ages, races, and backgrounds. The symptoms of SCD range from moderate to severe. Diagnosis may be feasible in utero or via a simple blood test at the newborn screening.
How It Progresses
Even when blood cells become hard and sticky, they try to travel through the small blood vessels in our bodies, where they can get easily entangled and clog blood flow. Resulting concerns and complications can be dangerous, leading to fatigue, infection, heart conditions, and stroke. SCD is a crippling disease that may possibly be lethal for some. That’s why early diagnosis and treatment are so important for those with SCD.
How It Is Treated
There are a range of treatments available for different levels of SCD. For the most severe cases, a hematopoietic stem cell transplant is available. This specialized transplant is done with stem cells from cord blood or bone marrow. People in need of stem cells from umbilical cord blood, which are easier to access than bone marrow, are typically able to use the blood from close family members who have stored umbilical cord from their children at birth. Find out more about cord blood banking here.
Disclaimer: We do not determine risk factors for specific conditions, and we cannot directly recommend transplants as a treatment for SCD. Please contact your doctor.