People who have sickle cell are anaemic, meaning their blood doesn't carry enough oxygen, which can make them sick. Their haemoglobin, a chemical in the blood cell, is misshapen and can't easily move through the blood vessels. When the vessels get blocked, it is very painful
Sickle cell is genetic – you get it from your parents. Everyone gets half of their genes (the building blocks of our body) from their mother and half from their father. If a mother and father both have one sickle cell gene, they can have a child with the disease, even though they may not have it themselves.
Sickle cell is most common among people of Central and West African descent
People who are at risk of getting sickle cell anaemia:
Diagnosing sickle cell anaemia
Anyone can be tested for sickle cell. If you are planning on becoming a parent, you and your partner should get tested, especially if you are Central African or have parents from a region where sickle cell is common. Your doctor can do the test or can send you to a genetic counselor (a doctor who deals with genetic diseases).
If you have a baby, he or she should be tested for the disease and the gene. It's important to know if your baby has it especially for when he or she gets older.
If you or your child has sickle cell anaemia, get medical care if you or your child have: