Sickle Cell Anaemia or Sickle Cell Disease is a genetic disorder where the haemoglobin of the affected individual gets mutated, causing their red blood cells to change shape and become crescent-shaped. As a result of this change in shape, the movement of these blood cells becomes restricted. Since haemoglobin carries oxygen, its restricted movement results in a lack of oxygen in various body parts and organs. This causes the patient extreme pain and in some cases leads to organ failure and death!
One can receive the mutated gene from one of the parents and become a carrier. If both of one’s parents are carriers, then they’ll most certainly get the disease! With the world’s exploding population the number of Sickle cell disease patients has been on the rise. Following are the best ways to prevent this crisis,
Blood tests - blood tests help screen babies and adults and identify those with the disease. Recently, this test has been included in the screening of babies in the U.S. However, adults who wish to check for this disease can also get it done. Once you test positive, your doctor will decide if you need further tests to check the severity of your disease.
Ultrasound test - this test helps identify patients with a risk of getting a stroke. Since doctors still haven’t found a way to remove this disease completely, the treatment involves removing or reducing its symptoms. Hence, if you know you are at risk of a stroke, your doctor can take preventive measures such as increased blood transfusions, etc.
Pre-birth screening - parents who don’t want to deal with children having this disease often leave them to fend for themselves. To prevent this outcome, doctors can conduct tests on an unborn baby and confirm whether or not they’ll have sickle cell anaemia. This allows couples to decide whether or not to undertake the responsibility for caring for such a patient.
Treatment - other than medication to relieve its symptoms there are two key forms of surgeries that can be performed. The first is blood transfusion. In this procedure, healthy red blood cells from a donor’s blood are taken and infused into the patient. This increases the presence of red blood cells in their body and reduces the risks of death by a stroke. The second is a bone marrow transplant, where they replace the affected bone marrow with that of a donor. Bone marrow is that part of the bone which is responsible for the production of red blood cells. The problem with this procedure is that one must have an exact donor which normally can only be a sibling. What’s more, your sibling must not have the disease themselves to be able to help.