Sickle Cell Anaemia!

Diagram of sickle cells blocking blood flow through vessels causing pain 'crisis

Diagram of sickle cells blocking blood flow through vessels causing pain 'crisis

What is Sickle Cell Anaemia?

Sickle Cell Anaemia (Haemoglobin SS) is a genetically inherited red blood cell disorder, which predominantly affects people from Afro-Carribean ethnic backgrounds in the UK and some of Asian heritage, although I have learned this past year (2020) that anyone can have it including Caucasians with Mediterranean ethnic backgrounds such as from Italy, Spain, Greece and other European countries. 

Genetic Mutation

It evolved as a genetic mutation, in countries where Malaria was prevalent. So it is thought that carriers of Sickle Cell Anaemia, diagnosed as having Sickle Cell Trait, are protected against Malaria due to their carrier status.

Although some publications state that this is not necessarily the case and some have been known to still have Malaria.

Normal Genes

Normal Genes


The normal shape of red blood cells is round, but in sickle cell, aproximately 80-100% of red blood cells are sickle or 'C' shaped and rigid and stiff, causing them to clump together, blocking blood vessels and causes severe episodes of pain. This abnormality in the haemaglobin means that oxygen is not able to be carried through the blood properly to the organs.

This blockage is known as a vaso-occlusive 'crisis'. This in turn may result in organ damage and can cause death if left untreated.

Crisis pain can last minutes, to hours, to days/weeks and in some instances has been known to last months at a time.  Although there are other forms of crisis, this is the most commonly experienced.

The severity and length of this pain varies from individual to individual and can depend on the site of pain on the body and other physiological and environmental factors.

Due to oxygen levels within the red blood cells being depleted, anaemia and chronic fatigue is another presentation individuals with this disorder suffer.

As this is a very brief overview, further information can be obtained from the Sickle Cell Society by clicking the link as follows: