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Sickle Cell Disease

key information

source: Stanford Children's Health

summary/abstract:

What is sickle cell disease?
Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder characterized by defective hemoglobin (a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to the tissues of the body).

Sickle cell disease involves the red blood cells, or hemoglobin, and their ability to carry oxygen. Normal hemoglobin cells are smooth, round, and flexible, like the letter “O,” so they can move through the vessels in our bodies easily. Sickle cell hemoglobin cells are stiff and sticky, and form into the shape of a sickle, or the letter “C,” when they lose their oxygen. These sickle cells tend to cluster together, and cannot easily move through the blood vessels. The cluster causes a blockage in small arteries or capillaries and stops the movement of healthy, normal oxygen-carrying blood. This blockage is what causes the painful and damaging complications of sickle cell disease.

 

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