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What is Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia?

These are inherited genetic blood disorders that affect the haemoglobin ii the Red Blood Cells. Haemoglobin is a pigment in the Red Blood Cells (RBS) which combines with the oxygen we breath in to give the blood the rich bright red colour. Sickle Cell affect predominantly Black people, while Thalassaemia affects peple from Mediterranean, Middle East and Far East. Simply people whose ancestors originated from areas where malaria had been endemic. Nevertheless it can affect all  races due to intermarriages.
The difference between the two is that sickle cell affects the structure of the RBS  which under certain conditions will change shape from being round like a doughnut and flexible, to a sickle or banana shape.This sickle shape causes blockages in the tiny blood vessels giving rise to pain known as painful crisis.  This may last for hours, days, weeks or months. In Thalassaemia they cannot not produce enough red blood cell  therefore have low haemoglobin and depend soley on blood transfusion.  These disorders are passed on from parents to children .  You could be a carrier but will never know except if you've  been tested. If you do not know your Sickle Cell or Thalassaemia status   ask your GP or get tested. This will enable you to make informed decision before having children if you and your partner are botn carriers or carry the trait gene. As there is always a 1 : 4 chance of passing the abnormal genes to your child. For more information visit our website : www.sicklcellbhr.org.uk  and  click on Resources to educate yourself.

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