FACTS

Photo of Normal vs. Sickle Cell Blood Cell
Normal Blood Cell (left)
Sickle Cell (right)

What Is Sickle Cell Disease (SCD)?

SCD is an inherited blood disorder that limits the amount of healthy red blood cells carrying oxygen throughout your body. Red blood cells are normally round and flexible, which allows for easy flow through blood vessels. The irregularly shaped, “sickled-cells” are hard and sticky, and they get stuck in blood vessels. This slows and blocks blood flow from carrying oxygen to organs in the body. Plus, it creates a pain similar to the passing of kidney and gallstones! Fortunately, SCD is not contagious.

 

Who IS Impacted?

SCD affects thousands of people living in Pennsylvania, and affects 100,000+ people in the United States alone. There are over 300,000 infants born each year, worldwide with SCD. SC Disease and SC Trait are common in many ethnic groups including: African, Arab, Asian, Black, Caucasian, Greek, Indian, Italian, and Latino.

 

What Is The Life Expectancy?

While efforts have been made throughout the years to manage the difficult symptoms of SCD, the average life expectancy for SCD patients is only 45 years of age.

 

What Are Some Sickle Cell Complications?

SCD is accompanied by chronic and acute pain, loss of lung tissue, loss of organs, loss of daily activities, shortened school and work attendance, extreme fatigue, loss of bone tissue, and other related challenges, both physical and emotional.

The severest pain, called a “crisis,” requires admission to the emergency room for treatment with morphine, often for a week. Some suffer silently in pain, and do not share what they are going through, and many are embarrassed because most people do not understand their disease.

 

What Is The SCD Stigma?

Due to this chronic illness, some must take days off from school and work, due to fatigue and other symptoms. They often choose to tell others that they are "tired" and "just not up to going out" because they know most people will not understand. And, when terrible "pain crisis" occur, and they go to the ER, their request for pain medicine is often looked at improperly by people thinking they are drug addicts.