World Sickle cell day is commemorated every 19th of June. The aim of this awareness is to enlighten the public on sickle cell disease, and provide ways to prevent and manage the illness.
Sickle cell disease is said to be an inherited blood disorder marked by defective hemoglobin. This is the protein in the red blood cells that carries oxygen to the tissues of the body, and it tend to stick together, blocking small blood vessels and this results to painful and damaging complications. So, sickle cell disease interferes with the delivery of oxygen to the tissues.This condition affects over 20 million people worldwide and more than 100,000 people in the United States.
People with sickle cell illness inherit the disease from their biological parents. People who inherit the mutated hemoglobin protein gene from both biological parents have sickle cell anemia.
Some of the symptoms of this illness are extreme pain, frequent infections, vision problem, swelling of hands and legs, severe headache, delayed growth and puberty.
Early diagnosis and prevention of complications is critical in sickle cell disease treatment. Treatment includes, Drinking plenty of water about 8 to 10 glasses daily, Blood transfusions, antibiotics, Regular eye checkup and Bone marrow transplant.
Sickle cell anemia can lead to a host of complications if not properly managed, such as Stroke, Acute chest syndrome, Pulmonary hypertension, Organ damage, Speech difficulty, Pregnancy complications, Blindness just to mention but a few.
The best and the only way to avoid this, is to know your genotype and that of your partner before marriage. partners with the same AS genotype have a high chance of having children with the sickle cell disease. For parents who are each carrier of a sickle cell gene, there is a 1 in 4, or a 25% chance of a child with sickle cell disease.
knowing your genotype at a very early stage helps in saving the life of the unborn child and also aids in choosing a life partner. Sickle cell diseases is one of the major causes of monogenic diseases which affects over 300,000 births worldwide.