What do Larenz Tate, Tiki Barber, Miles Davis, Paul Williams, Tionne ‘T- Boz’ Watkins, rapper Prodigy and Junior from the Steve Harvey Morning Show have in common? Aside from being well known African American celebrities, they also share the debilitating disease Sickle Cell Anemia. The term Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) refers to a group of inherited red blood cell disorders. People with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) have abnormal hemoglobin, called hemoglobin S or sickle hemoglobin, in their red blood cells. Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body.
SCD is passed by genes from parents to their children. In the United States, with an estimated population of over 270 million, about 1,000 babies are born with Sickle Cell Disease each year. People who have SCD inherit two abnormal hemoglobin genes, one from each parent. There are many different forms of SCD however, in all forms at least one of the two abnormal genes causes a person’s body to make hemoglobin S. When a person has two hemoglobin S genes, Hemoglobin SS, the disease is referred to as Sickle Cell Anemia. This is the most common and often considered the most severe kind of SCD.
Sickle Cell is a life long illness. The lack of tissue oxygen can cause attacks of sudden, severe pain, called pain Crises. These pain attacks can occur without warning and a person often needs to go to the hospital for effective treatment. There are effective treatments that can reduce symptoms and prolong life. The current life expectancy for a person with SCD is 40-60 years; In 1973 it was only 14 years. Early diagnosis through blood and genetic testing as well as regular medical care to prevent complications also contribute to improved well-being of the patient. One major key is hydration.
Nurses are natural health educators. As a Nurse, I educate people on monthly health topics with my blog. September is Sickle Cell Awareness Month. I present this information to my local church.
Nicole M. Brown, MSN, RN
Facts Sited from: WebMD