Fast Facts About Sickle Cell
More than 80,000 Americans are affected by sickle cell disease, and a significant number of those affected are African-American children.
Memphis has the second highest population of adult sickle cell patients in the nation, with over 1,700 adult sickle cell patients.
The term sickle cell disease refers to a group of similar hemoglobin disorders. All forms of sickle cell disease are marked by anemia (a low red blood cell count) and by crescent shaped red blood cells.
Sickle cell is not contagious; it is an inherited disease. People who inherit a sickle cell gene from one parent and a normal gene from the other parent have a condition called sickle cell trait.
Sickle cell is the most common inherited blood disorder in the United States, and affects millions of people worldwide.
Sickle cell trait is different from sickle cell anemia. People who have sickle cell trait don’t have the disease, but they have one of the genes that cause it. Like people who have sickle cell anemia, those who have sickle cell trait can pass the gene to their children.
There are about 2.5 million people in America with sickle cell trait.
According to the Center for Disease Control during 2005, medical expenditures for children with SCD averaged $11,702 for children with Medicaid coverage and $14,772 for children with employer-sponsored insurance. About 40% of both groups had at least one hospital stay. During the period of 1989 to 1993 over 75,000 hospitalizations were due to sickle cell disease, costing approximately $475 million.
Pharmaceutical advances, and a better understanding and management of the disease, have resulted in increased life expectancies of sickle cell patients. Patients now live into their 40s and 50s and continue to experience unpredictable bouts of pain that last a few hours to many weeks – threatening their family life, career, education and social life.