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ASH Position on Sickle Cell Trait

It is medically inaccurate to claim sickle cell crisis as the cause of death based solely on the presence of sickled cells at autopsy. Sudden death is an extraordinarily rare occurrence in sickle cell trait and the finding of sickle cell trait is unlikely to supersede other inflicted traumas as the cause or major factor in death.

Millions of American men, women and children with sickle cell trait lead normal, healthy lives, and there have been no well-controlled studies on collapse due to exertion that would provide evidence to cite sickle cell trait as a cause of death. Because of the rarity of sudden death in persons with sickle cell trait, cases where this is cited as the sole cause of death, or a major contributor must be viewed with profound skepticism.


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