World Sickle Cell Day observed on June 19 every year is an awareness holiday that aims to increase public knowledge and provide an understanding of sickle cell disease (S.C.D.), and the challenges experienced by patients and their families and caregivers. Did you know that sickle cell disease is the most common genetic blood disorder? Yes, sickle cell disease is a genetic condition that affects about 100,000 people in the United States. It also affects millions of people worldwide and is most common in African, Mediterranean, and Arabian Peninsula areas. So, what exactly is sickle cell disease and what are the treatments available for the disease. Let’s learn more.
History of World Sickle Cell Day
For those who are not aware of what sickle cell disease is, let us brief you in simple terms. Sickle cell disease is a genetic condition that occurs when a child receives a sickle cell trait from each parent. The disease causes red blood cells to ‘sickle’ or become banana-shaped when they are stressed and this can make it difficult for them to flow through blood vessels.
Our red blood cells are normally round and flexible, allowing them to travel freely through blood arteries, but with sickle cell disease, some of the cells become crescent moon-shaped and adhere to blood vessels. As a result, blood flow through blood vessels slows or stops, causing discomfort, organ damage, and possibly even a stroke. Sickle cell disease patients are additionally at risk for consequences such as stroke, acute chest syndrome, blindness, bone degeneration, and painful penile erections.
Over time, people with this disease can experience damage to organs such as the liver, kidney, lungs, heart, and spleen which can even lead to death. The treatment of sickle cell mostly focuses on preventing and treating complications. The only possible cure for the disorder is a bone marrow transplant. However, even this treatment is only possible for a limited number of affected individuals who have a suitable donor. Doctors also prescribe a medicine called Hydroxyurea which has been shown to significantly reduce pain. On this day, the Sickle Cell society encourages everyone to be a part of this annual effort to increase awareness about sickle cell disease and sickle cell traits.
World Sickle Cell Day timeline
Sickle cell disease is discovered by scientists in Africa.
Researchers discover that this disease makes red blood cells sickle by removing oxygen.
Dr. Harvey discovers that hemoglobin is different in patients suffering from sickle cell disease.
The United Nations recognizes World Sickle Cell Awareness Day on an international level.
World Sickle Cell Day FAQs
What is the main cause of sickle cell disease?
The main cause of sickle cell disease is a genetic defect. It is an inherited disease caused by a defect in a person’s gene. A person will be born with sickle cell disease only if two genes are inherited.
What is the life expectancy of someone with sickle cell disease?
According to various studies, among children and adults with sickle cell anemia, the median age at death was 42 years for males and 48 years for females.
Can sickle cell disease be cured?
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for most people with sickle cell disease. However, some treatments can relieve pain and help prevent complications associated with the disease.
How to Observe World Sickle Cell Day
The best thing you can do to observe World Sickle Cell Awareness Day is to spread awareness in your community, to friends, and families about sickle cell disease. Help others get educated.
Become a donor
One of the impactful ways in which you can help sickle cell disease patients is by becoming a blood or bone marrow donor. Since the patients occasionally need blood transfusions, your blood will help them.
Share your story
If you’re someone who has been affected by sickle cell disease and recovered or if you know someone who has been affected by the disease, share the story on social media. Knowledge is power.
5 Deadly Facts About Sickle Cell Disease
Anemia might be deadly for patients
Most sickle cell disease patients suffer from severe anemia and require blood transfusions.
It takes specialized tests
Specialized blood tests are needed to confirm whether you have the disease.
Breathing problems can occur
Breathing problems are very common in children with sickle cell disease.
Bone marrow transplants come with a risk
A bone marrow transplant may not be the best for all patients as it also comes with a risk.
A healthy diet can help
Practicing healthy habits like drinking 8 glasses of water per day can help.
Why World Sickle Cell Day is Important
We need this day
World Sickle Cell Awareness Day is a much-needed holiday that spreads awareness about this deadly disease. By educating everyone about this disease, we can help save many lives.
It spreads positivity
World Sickle Cell Awareness Day encourages people to care for and tend to people who are affected by the disease. By observing this day, we can help those people in need.
It is a movement
World Sickle Cell Awareness Day is not just a day to educate people about this disease, its symptoms, treatments, and other things related to the disease. It is a movement that brings all together to care for those who need it.
World Sickle Cell Day dates