Local Health Alert: Healthcare professionals recommend genetic testing of Sickle Cell Disease

Local Health Alert

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Here in the Mid-South, approximately 3,000 people live with Sickle Cell Disease.

If you’re unfamiliar, Sickle Cell Disease, or SCD, is an inherited genetic blood disorder that creates deformed red blood cells.  

Dr. Artangela Henry at Methodist Le Bonheur said, “A red blood cell is round and very flexible, meaning that it can easily flow through blood vessels. When it is moon-shaped, or crescent-shaped, it’s very hard to get through those blood vessels easily.”

Because the cells can’t move through those vessels, they become inflamed. As a result, the patient will suffer excruciating pain episodes, blood clotting which leads to stroke, pneumonia, among many other debilitating complications, and ultimately death.

Since it’s inherited, a patient can experience these symptoms as early as five-months-old.

Dr. Henry said, “Most individuals know that they have Sickle Cell Disease, but don’t know that they carry Sickle Cell traits.”

So, if you plan on having a baby, Dr. Henry says you should get tested. In order for an unborn child to develop SCD, it’s important to know that both parents must carry the gene.

If they test positive, Dr. Henry says, “There’s a 50% chance that they will have a child with sickle cell disease.”

You may remember Local 24 News’s former senior meteorologist Mark Walden who lost his battle with Sickle Cell back in April of 2013. To carry on his legacy, Local 24 Cares sponsors the annual 5K race, along with other local organizations, to raise awareness.

You can contribute to Sickle Cell research. Coming up Saturday September 21st is the Mark Walden Memorial Sickle Cell 5K at AutoZone Park. Sign up HERE.

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