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patient education

Did you know this about sickle cell?

key information

year: 2015

authors: Zoe Williams, Comfort Ndive, Iyamide Thomas, Collis Rochester-Peart, Lola Oni, Kofi Anie


Sickle cell disease is an illness of red blood cells. You are born with it, you get it from your parents. This means you cannot catch it from other people. Inside the red blood cells there is something called Haemoglobin or Hb.

There are many kinds of Hb, each has a letter or a name. Sickle cell Hb has the letter S. Each of your parents gives you one kind of Hb. For example, if you have one Hb S from Dad and one Hb S from Mum, then you have sickle cell disorder. Sickle cell trait means that a person is born with one unusual Hb which is the Hb S from one parent, and one usual Hb A from the other parent.

The sickle shaped red blood cells cannot travel through the tiny blood vessels easily; Oxygen also cannot get through to the tissues and organs of the body that need it. The sickle cell can get stuck in blood vessels and block the blood flow.

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