World Sickle Cell Day is June 19th each year. This important health observance, created by the United Nations and World Health Organization, recognizes sickle cell anemia as a public health problem – among the world’s foremost, and at times most lethal, genetic diseases.
Consider these top 10 facts about sickle cell disease:
- Sickle cell disease is the most common inherited blood disorder in the United States.
- An estimated 100,000 Americans have this serious disease.
- Sickle cell disease does not just affect the black population. It affects other ethnicities, as well. Globally, millions are affected whose ancestors came from sub-Saharan Africa; Spanish-speaking regions in the Western Hemisphere (South America, the Caribbean, and Central America); Saudi Arabia; India; and Mediterranean countries such as Turkey, Greece, and Italy.
- Typical life expectancy for people living with sickle cell disease is only 45 years.
- Sickle cell disease is present at birth, and babies with this disease start to show symptoms at 4 to 5 months of age when the red blood cells begin to sickle.
- About 1 in 13 Black babies is born with sickle cell trait in the U.S. and the disease occurs in about 1 out of every 365 Black births in the U.S.
- Sickled cells block blood flow, decrease oxygen delivery and can cause extremely painful “crisis” episodes, without warning.
- Severe “crisis” is described as sharp, intense, stabbing, throbbing, and more uncomfortable than post-surgical pain or childbirth.
- Blocked blood flow deprives organs of blood and oxygen, and chronic deprivation of oxygen-rich blood can damage the body’s nerves and organs – including the kidneys, liver and spleen. Organ damage can be fatal.
- Four of every ten sickle cell disease patients treated in a hospital for pain or other problems have to be readmitted for treatment again within 30 days, and many need emergency room care within 30 days of being discharged from a hospital.
Tosin Ola, BSN, RN has partnered with Mast Therapeutics to raise awareness of this debilitating and deadly disease.