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Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia

Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia

sickle-cell image
What is Sickle Cell & Thalassaemia

Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle Cell Disease is a term used to describe a range of sickle cell disorders, the most common being sickle cell anaemia. This inherited blood condition causes normal red blood cells to change shape and become sickle or crescent shaped. The sickled red blood cells may affect all organs of the body, causing numerous problems. These include severe intermittent pain often necessitating hospitalisation (called a painful crisis); greater susceptibility to infections; strokes; eye damage and kidney damage.

Sickle Cell Trait

Sickle cell trait does not cause any symptoms, and individuals with this condition, are usually unaware of it unless they have a blood test. People who have sickle cell trait are also called 'carriers' of the sickle gene. Sickle cell trait is very important because if two people with sickle cell trait have children, there is a 25% chance (1 in 4) that each and every pregnancy may result in a baby born with Sickle Cell Disease.

Thalassaemia Major

Thalassaemia Disease (usually called Thalassaemia Major) is a severe, inherited blood condition. The disease stops the affected individual from making enough haemoglobin in their blood. They therefore need blood transfusions every 4- 6 weeks to survive. These transfusions once started in early childhood, must continue for life. Regular transfusions results in a build up of iron within the body's vital organs. This 'iron excess' will result in complications which can affect hearing, fertility and growth, to name only a few of the problems.

Thalassaemia Trait

Thalassaemia Trait (sometimes called Thalassaemia Minor) is the carrier state of Thalassaemia Disease. Individuals who have this condition are usually unaware of it, unless they have a blood test.

Thalassaemia trait is very important because if two people have Thalassaemia trait, there is a 25% chance that each and every pregnancy may result in a baby born with Thalassaemia Disease.

Who is affected?

Both sickle cell and thalassaemia are not infectious. The only way you can have either is if you were born with it and one of your parents passed the gene on to you.

All races may be affected by either sickle cell or thalassaemia. However, Sickle is commonly found in people who come from, or whose ancestors came from:

Southern Greece
Southern Italy
Middle East- in particular Sudan, Iran & Iraq

Thalassaemia is commonly found in people who come from, or whose ancestors come from:

Mediterranean countries
Middle Eastern countries

North Europe including the U.K.

Birmingham Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Service
Soho Health Centre
247-251 Soho Road
B21 9RY
Tel: 0121 545 1655
Fax: 0121 241 6736