Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a chronic anemia characterized by the distortion of red blood cells.
Normal red blood cells are round in shape. People with SCD have some normal blood cells but they also produce the crescent shaped red blood cells that distinguish the disease.
The crescent or sickle shaped red blood cells have a shorter lifespan than normal ones. This causes episodes of blood vessel blockage, making it extremely difficult for oxygen to flow within the blood stream. It can also lead to organ failure.
SCD is not contageous. It is a genetic disorder that is passed on by both parents. It occurs in people who are homozygous for hemoglobin S.
It predominantly affects people of African, Asians, Mediterraneans and Middle East descent but can also occur in Caucasians.
People with Sickle Cell Disease experience chronic pain, tiredness and swelling in various parts of the body. It can also cause further complications such as infections.