Sickle Cell Disease occurs where red blood cells become abnormally long and pointed, similar to the shape of a banana.
It is also a genetic condition that occurs when a child receives a sickle cell trait from each parent and is the most common genetic blood disorder.
According to research, Nigeria has the highest number of Sickle cell disease in the world.
Over half of the 300,000 babies born with sickle cell disease every year die before the age of five.
As the world marks World Sickle Cell Day (June 19), here are some facts to know about the disease.
1.It can affect people of all races but occurs more in people who are black or of African descent.
2. It is an inherited, lifelong condition that is neither contagious nor infectious.
3. People with the genotype AS, are carriers of the Sickle Cell Trait (SCT) but do not suffer any symptoms of Sickle Cell Disease. They can however pass it on to their children.
4. Sufferers of the disease are at risk of developing various complications such as anemia, stroke, tissue, organ, pneumonia, and bone damage as well as pain due to the inability of the sickle-shaped red blood cells to carry oxygen normally.
5.Hemoglobin SS is the most common type of sickle cell disease. There are many different types of sickle cell disease, but Hemoglobin SS type is the most common and is also called sickle cell anemia. It occurs when a person inherits a Hemoglobin S sickle trait from each parent.
6.People with sickle cell disease are found mostly in areas of the world that have malaria. This is because sickle cell trait can protect a person from becoming infected with malaria.
7. There is no cure for Sickle Cell Disease yet although, some success has been recorded with bone marrow transplants. Also known as stem cell transplant, the procedure involves replacing the abnormal stem cells residing in bone marrow with healthy cells from an eligible brother or sister.
In 2018, Revee Agyepong from Canada became the first adult to be cured of sickle cell anemia.