Hear Professor Vekilov talk about Sickle Cell Anemia
Sickle cell anemia is an inherited blood disorder in which the hemoglobin, an oxygen-carrying molecule within the red blood cell, is defective. After the hemoglobin molecules give up their oxygen, some of them condense into rod-like structures that cause the entire cell to stiffen into a sickle shape that no longer will fit through the tiny blood vessels where a normal red blood cell must go. The result is painful blockages that can lead to serious tissue damage in vital organs and a chronic low blood count called anemia. Half of those born with sickle cell anemia die before reaching the age of three. Roughly 72,000 people in the United States have the disease, and another 2 million Americans carry the sickle cell trait in their genes.