Sickle Cell Disease is a result of a mutation to the gene responsible for hemoglobin. This mutation causes a person’s Red Blood Cells to change from disk shaped to crescent shaped. The deformed cells may clog the body’s small blood vessels, causing extreme pain. In addition, these abnormally shaped cells die early causing a constant shortage of red blood cells, causing patients to become chronically anemic and increasing their chance of infections and stroke, as well as tissue and organ damage.
One in 500 African-Americans suffer from sickle cell anemia, while one in 12 African-Americans carry the sickle cell trait. Patients with the disease may need 15 to 25 blood transfusions each year.