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Taking Control: Teens with Sickle Cell Disease

key information

source: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

year: N/A


Sickle cell disease is a blood disorder that affects red blood Cells (RBC). The main purpose of red blood cells is to deliver oxygen to the body. Blood delivers oxygen to all of the tissues in the body.
The part of the blood that carries oxygen is called hemoglobin. Sickle cell disease is a blood disorder that affects the hemoglobin (HEE-muh-glowbin) within the red blood cells. The main role of hemoglobin is to deliver oxygen to the cells of the body. People with sickle cell disease have red blood cells that contain mostly hemoglobin S, an abnormal type of hemoglobin. Sometimes these red blood cells become sickle (banana) shaped, and have trouble passing through small blood vessels.

Normal red blood cells are shaped like discs and are fl exible. They fl ow easily through the body’s blood vessels. Sickleshaped red blood cells are sticky, stiff, and rigid. They clog the body’s small blood vessels.
When sickle-shaped cells block small blood vessels, less blood can reach that part of the body. Tissue that does not receive a normal blood fl ow eventually becomes damaged. This is what causes some of the complications of sickle cell disease.

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