Sickle Cell Anemia is an inherited blood disorder which affects the blood cells ability to carry oxygen through the body. Sickle Cell Anemia disproportionately affects people of African-descent although people of Hispanic descent are the fastest growing ethnic group.
Over 100,000 people in the U.S. suffer from Sickle Cell Anemia and 3 million carry the Sickle Cell Trait. Under certain conditions the blood cells sickle or change shape. Vaso-occlusive crisis is the main condition that is unpredictable and the leading cause of debilitating pain and multi-organ damage.
Once the red blood cell sickles it can clog up in the blood vessels which deprive the tissues and vital organs of oxygen. Patients often experience excruciating pain, most commonly in the joints but it can occur anywhere in the body. Pain can be triggered by stress, changes in temperature, infection, illness and dehydration.
Pain crisis and infection are common problems that are treated in the hospitals by way of Emergency Rooms, Ambulatory Care Centers and Outpatient Specialty Clinics.