World Sickle Cell Day is observed on June 19 every year across the world. It is a day as for raising awareness about sickle cell disease. This disease is a type of blood disorder which gets passed down from parents to children. It is mainly a group of disorders which affects the molecule in red blood cells, and haemoglobin.
Hence, those who are diagnosed with Sickle disease have haemoglobin S. This is an atypical haemoglobin molecule that has the tendency to distort red blood cells into a sickle.
In 2008 this day came to existence after the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) acknowledged sickle cell disease as a public health problem. The UNGA also recognised Sickle disease as one of the first genetic diseases.
What is sickle cell disease?
Sickle cell disease is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders that affects hemoglobin which is the protein that carries oxygen through the body. In a normal circumstance, red blood cells are disc shaped and flexible to move easily through blood vessels. However, if one has sickle cell disease, the red blood cells become sickle shaped. The sickle shaped cells do not bend easily and tend to block the blood flow to the rest of the body, explained Dr. Rahul Bhargava, Institute Of Blood Disorders And Bone Marrow Transplant, Principal Director Fortis Healthcare.
What are the symptoms and treatment options for sickle cell disease?
- Color of the skin may turn yellow like during jaundice
- Fatigue from anemia
- Painful swelling of hands and feet
- Eye problems – sickle cell disease injures the eye cells which may cause the retina to overgrow, get blocked or bleed.
- Chronic pain
Dr. Bhargava said that the only treatment for sickle disease is blood and bone marrow transplant for most patients. However, after an early diagnosis, the doctor may recommend medicines or transfusions to manage complications. The medicines may include penicillin, voxelotor, or hydroxyurea.