Sickle Cell Disease


A group of inherited red blood cell disorders caused by the production of hemoglobin S, a protein in red blood cells (RBCs) that causes RBCs to assume a sickle, or crescent, shape. Sickled red blood cells break down prematurely, which causes the group of disorders, including Sickle Cell Anemia (a lack of red blood cells causing shortness of breath, fatigue, and delayed growth and development in children), jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin due to rapid breakdown of red blood cells), clotting (sickled red blood cells, which are stiff and inflexible, get stuck in small blood vessels depriving tissues and organs of oxygen-rich blood and can lead to organ damage, especially in the lungs, kidneys, spleen, and brain), and pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the blood vessels that supply the lungs). Repeated infections, and periodic episodes of pain are also common. The severity of symptoms varies from person to person.