Sickle Cell Disease is a genetic disorder caused by an inherited abnormality of hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells.
The disease is characterized by anemia, acute complications that can become rapidly life threatening, and the development of chronic organ damage. Many patients suffer from episodes of severe, often excruciating pain that can last for days and require hospitalization. Other important problems include life-threatening infections, anemic crises, pneumonia or acute chest syndrome and stroke. Adults with Sickle Cell Disease suffer the consequences of chronic damage to the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys. Painful skin ulcers develop over the ankles and may fail to heal. Specialized comprehensive care markedly reduces morbidity and mortality.