WORLD SICKLE CELL DAY AWARENESS
Many times, you ask a random person what they know about sickle cell disease and you would rarely get a response of more than 2-3 sentences. What exactly is Sickle Cell Disease and why is it so important to create its awareness?
Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is an inherited blood disorder disease. It has to do with the red blood cells being abnormal. A normal red blood cell has hemoglobin shaped like a disc/doughnut without the ring. On the other hand, in someone who has SCD, the hemoglobin has the shape of a hook/farming sickle. The responsibility of the hemoglobin is to transfer oxygen to different parts of the body. In someone with SCD, the transfer of oxygen is quite difficult as the hemoglobin die off causing a shortage of red blood cells. It is also difficult because the hemoglobin could get stuck in smaller blood vessels causing stagnant blood flow. All of these leading to different health complications including death.
Below are 7 major facts of the disease (Sickle Cell Disease)
- Sickle Cell Disease is inherited. A child becomes an SCD patient when he/she receives two sickle cell genes for each parent. Sickle Cell is NOT transferable by physical contact(s), it is strictly inherited from one’s parents.
- One who receives just one sickle cell gene from just one parent becomes a Sickle Cell Carrier. This means that such an individual has the trait of the sickle cell.
- SCD can be diagnosed with a blood test. However, an SCD patient can be spotted at birth during the newborn’s screening at the hospital. It can also be diagnosed when the child is still in the womb through chorionic villus sampling and amniocentesis.
- We do not just have one form of the sickness as there are about 3 major different types of Sickle Cell Disease. These include: HbSS, HVAC and AS. HbSS occurs when a person inherits both sickle cell disease. HbSC occurs when a person inherits the gene sickle cell and a different type of sickle cell named the C gene. It is a more mild form of HbSS. Then AS explains that a child inherits just one of the sickle cell gene and the other is a normal type of hemoglobin, making this child only a carrier.
- Prevention of the HbSS is possible when both parents who are carriers discuss their health conditions with each other and with a doctor for proper family planning. However, very majorly, it is advised for people to know their genotype before intate involvement. This is because the risk of birthing a child with SCD would be null and in most cases, countered.
- Treatment of the SCD is rarely possible. First of all, through a bone marrow transplant which is 100% risky. Other forms of treatment entails proper health habits/lifestyle including the use of a medication called hydroxyurea and constant checkups with their doctors.
- Several symptoms of the SCD include: pain crises, infections, loss of vision, stroke, death, etc.
The Sapphires Development Initiative is very much committed to ensuring the United Nations SDG 3- Good Health and Wellbeing is achieved in our communities and the world at large. After all, a healthy person can contribute his/her quota to being the change they should be in the society, which is a major goal of TSDI, to achieve a fundamental change in the society.
Finally, after reading this, go get tested especially if you do not know your genetic status. Ask your partner to go get tested too. Lastly, spread the word about Sickle Cell Disease. SPREAD FACTS NOT MYTHS!!!
Happy 🌍 Sickle Cell Day📌