Sickle Cell Disease Program
We are a multidisciplinary group committed to improving the quality of life and care of our patients living with sickle cell disease.
What is Sickle Cell Disease?
Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited genetic illness caused by a DNA mutation. The sickle mutation causes hemoglobin, which is found in red blood cells and carries oxygen to all the parts of our body, to form fibers that change round and flexible red blood cells to a shape that is stiff, sticky, and sickle shaped. These misshapen cells may get clogged in the smaller blood vessels in the body, leading to tissue damage, which causes many of the complications of the disease that affect every organ system and create both chronic and acute pain.
Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
SCD is the most common genetic disorder in the U.S. It affects an estimated 100,000 Americans and millions worldwide. People living with SCD inherited a mutated gene from both biological parents. If only one parent has the sickle cell gene, the offspring will have a sickle cell trait.
The sickle cell trait is common in some racial and ethnic groups. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 13 Black/African American babies and 1 in 163,000 Latino babies are born with the sickle cell trait (SCT). Those born with SCT do not have symptoms but can have children with sickle cell disease if their partner also has this trait.
Decades ago, patients with sickle cell disease were not expected to reach adulthood. However, with changes in care such as taking penicillin to prevent infections as well as disease modifying agents such as hydroxyurea, patients are living well into adulthood and into old age.