Sickle Cell Disease

How is it treated

A bone marrow transplant is the only known cure for sickle cell disease. A well-matched donor is needed to have the best chance for a successful transplant.

African Americans are under-represented on the bone marrow registry – accounting for only 7% of all registrants. Because a patient's best chance of finding a matching bone marrow donor is with someone of similar ancestry, African Americans with sickle cell disease have a harder time finding a bone marrow match.

Who's at risk?

In the United States, most people with sickle cell disease are of African ancestry.

  • About 1 in 13 African American babies is born with sickle cell trait.
  • About 1 in every 365 black children is born with sickle cell disease.
  • Approximately 100,000 Americans have sickle cell disease.

* Source: National Heart Blood and Lung Institute
** As of 2018

Quick Facts

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited disease of hemoglobin, a molecule that carries oxygen within red blood cells. Patients with sickle cell disease have red blood cells containing abnormal hemoglobin, which causes the cells to become stiff and form a sickle or crescent shape.

Because it is difficult for sickle shaped cells to pass through small blood vessels, the flow of blood is sometimes blocked, and oxygen does not reach nearby tissues. The disease can cause a host of medical problems including:

  • Anemia
  • Jaundice
  • Gallstones
  • Lung tissue damage
  • Pain episodes
  • Stroke
  • Organ damage

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