World Sickle Cell Day is commemorated across the globe on the 19th of June every year. It is a day that is dedicated to raising awareness on an international and national level about this genetic disease.
The United Nations recognized the 19th of June as World Sickle Cell Day to raise awareness and spread information about this health problem.
On 22nd December 2008, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution in order to recognize sickle cell disease as one of the major health problems and “one of the world’s foremost genetic diseases.”
This resolution was passed unanimously by the members to declare the 19th of June as World Sickle Cell Day and to be commemorated each year to raise awareness.
What is sickle cell disorder?
Sickle cell disorders are a name given collectively to a group of illnesses that directly affect the red blood cells. Sickle cell disorder is a genetic mutation condition that means that it is heredity and is passed to you from your parents at the time of birth. It cannot be transferred from one person to another in any other way.
Sickle cell disorder is caused when the flexible and round-shaped blood cells start becoming stiff and transform into a sickle shape causing a stoppage of other blood cells to pass through and let them carry oxygen or move freely across the body. This stoppage causes pain and sometimes there are episodes of excruciating pain for a long period of time. These long painful episodes are known as sickle cell crises. The strongest painkillers such as morphine are to be administered to control this severe pain.
People who suffer from sickle cell disorder are at grave risk of complications such as acute chest syndrome, stroke, bone damage, blindness, and priapism (a disease where a painful and persistent erection occurs on the penis).
An adverse effect of sickle cell is that people who have been suffering from this disease might experience organ damage such as the kidneys, spleen, lungs, liver, and heart. At times the complications are so severe that it results in death.
Treatment of sickle cell disorders mainly focuses on the treatment of these complications or preventing them.
Symptoms of sickle cell disorder
There are a lot of symptoms that can determine that a person is suffering from sickle cell disorder. Some of the most common ones are:
Chronic anemia: This is known as a disease where the body doesn’t have enough red blood cells or the Hemoglobin level is so low in the body that it cannot function properly.
Unpredictable pain: When the blood vessels are blocked by the sickle cells, they create a swelling patch in that area which results in pain, this can be long-term as well and is known as crisis.
Fatigue: A person suffering from sickle cell disorder may experience pangs of tiredness, fatigue, or lack of energy. The person might feel weak all the time because of the lack of red blood cells and might become anemic.
Jaundice: This is also a common symptom of sickle cell disorder. The skin starts becoming yellow or the white part of the skin and eyes become yellow because of lack of oxygen.
Facts about sickle cell disorder
There are some lesser-known facts about sickle cell disorder but these are the key facts that need to be spread across the world to raise awareness.
Some of them are listed below:
- Sickle cell disorder is a hereditary disorder. It is inherited from one of the parents or sometimes both.
- It can affect any race or community but it has been noticed that this disorder predominantly affects people belonging to the Caribbean and African backgrounds.
- A simple blood test can determine the sickle cell disorder or trait if a person suspects of having it
- Children which suffer from sickle cell disorder are at a higher risk of stroke.
- The risk of stroke is more between the age of 2 to 16
- The excruciating pain episodes may occur at any part of the body and are referred to as a crisis.
Sickle cell disorder- cure
The only cure for this genetically inherited disease is the transplant of bone marrow but it is highly difficult to find a suitable donor. There are a limited number of individuals whose bone marrow will match with the infected persons.
Medical professionals try to combat the episodes of painful crises by administering a medicine called hydroxyurea. This medicine has been known to curb the pain to a significant level of the painful crisis but this is not a permanent solution.
What is a sickle cell trait?
A sickle cell trait is often inherited by the infected person from his parents. This trait is often passed over as a sickle gene and doesn’t become dominant in your body which means it doesn’t develop into a sickle cell disorder. The person who has sickle cell trait will not develop the symptoms from it and most of the time never knows that he carries the sickle cell trait. The only way to find out if you have the sickle cell trait is by getting a blood test.
If you have a sickle cell trait, some of the sickle-shaped cells will be present but the majority of the red blood cells will be flexible and round-shaped like normal.
Living with a sickle cell trait is not difficult at all but if you plan to start a family it is important to consider a few key factors regarding this genetically inherited disease.
Make sure that your partner does not have sickle cell trait, this way none of your children will have sickle cell disorder but there are 50% chances that any of them can have sickle cell trait like you.
How to commemorate World Sickle Cell Day?
This day is dedicated to raising awareness about this disorder and celebrating the achievement of all those individuals who have been living with this disorder since birth.
Ideally, post on social media accounts and platforms about this disorder and create awareness among your friends, family, colleagues, and social circle. Know about the events which are happening close by, join them, and urge other people to get themselves tested to know whether they have sickle cell trait or not to avoid bringing children into this world suffering from sickle cell disorder
World Sickle Cell Day is commemorated every year on the 19th of June to raise awareness across the globe about this genetically inherited blood cell disorder. This disease is not uncommon and awareness can curb the spread. A simple blood test can determine whether a person has it or not to ensure no more people are born with it as this disease makes the person undergo excruciating spells of pain which are incurable most of the time.