Sickle cell disease is considered one of the very common genetic illnesses all over the globe. Approximately 300,000 babies with sickle cell disease are born annually and a majority of these are in sub-Saharan Africa. Sadly, access to appropriate medical care is sorely lacking and statistics show that in Africa, sickle cell disease is associated with 50% – 90% of childhood mortality.
Overview: What is sickle cell disease?
Also known as sickle cell anemia, sickle cell disease is a genetic disease wherein the normal round shape of red blood cells is affected; instead of being round-shaped, they are shaped like crescent moons. Round red blood cells can easily move through blood vessels; however, sickle-shaped cells interconnect and can cause blood clots and other complications.
The resulting blood clots can cause extreme pain in the chest, back, hands, and feet. Furthermore, the disrupted blood flow can result in muscle, bone, and organ damage. People with sickle cell disease typically feel tired and weak, and they generally look pale. Moreover, the whites of the eyes and skin typically have a yellowish tint.
Management and Treatment
Public health measures, such as parental education and newborn screening can have a significant impact on the survival of children with sickle cell disease. However, we understand that access to medical care in Africa can be very limited, which is why at Save A Child International, we endeavor to bring children and one accompanying parent over to the United States for treatment. As a children’s charitable Organization in Atlanta, Georgia, we do everything that we can to meet the needs of children with this disease.
Once here in the U.S., we can coordinate with our volunteers and provide children and families with accommodation and logistic support. Furthermore, we can provide the much-needed treatment that they require. Management and treatment options for sickle cell disease include:
- Diagnostic Tests
A blood test can be used to check for hemoglobin S. Hemoglobin S is the defective form of hemoglobin that triggers sickle cell disease. If the test is positive, further tests will be conducted to determine whether 1 or 2 sickle cell genes are present. Additional tests may be required to check for possible complications as well.
- Bone Marrow Transplant
A bone marrow transplant is, for now, the only potential cure for this disease. Once we get African children here in the U.S. we immediately put them on the transplant list to help them get their best chances for a match.
We can also help children and families gain access to the medications that they need. Some medications that can be used to manage sickle cell disease, include antibiotics, pain relievers, hydroxyurea, and more.
If you are looking to make a charitable donation in Georgia, consider supporting our advocacy to fight childhood sickle cell disease in Africa. Make a difference today.