Sickle cell disease is the most common inherited blood disorder in the United States. The disease affects 70,000 to 100,000 Americans and is most prevalent among African Americans, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. About one in 500 African Americans has the disease, and one in 12 carry the sickle cell trait.
Here's some basic information about sickle cell disease.
What Is Sickle Cell Disease?
Normal red blood cells are disc-shaped and look like donuts without holes in the center, traveling easily through the blood vessels. But in sickle cell, the red blood cells are shaped like sickles or "C's." These irregularly shaped cells are rigid and sticky. They often form clumps, which can slow or block blood flow and oxygen throughout the body causing pain, serious infections, and organ damage.