What is Sickle Cell?

Sickle Cell Disease
Sickle cell anemia (sickle cell disease) is a disorder of the blood caused by an inherited abnormal hemoglobin (an oxygen-carrying protein within the red blood cells). The abnormal hemoglobin causes distorted (sickled) red blood cells. The sickle red blood cells are fragile and prone to rupture. The irregular sickle cells block blood vessels causing tissue and organ damage, pain, and death.

Sickle Cell Trait
Sickle cell trait is a person who carries one sickle hemoglobin producing gene inherited from their parents and one normal hemoglobin gene.  Normal hemoglobin is called type A. Sickle hemoglobin called S. Sickle cell trait is the presence of hemoglobin AS on the hemoglobin electrophoresis. Two people with the sickle cell trait has a 1 in 4 chance of giving a child with sickle cell disease. Other hemoglobin traits common in the United States are AC and AE traits

  • It is estimated that over 100,000 people in the U.S. live with the daily challenges of   sickle cell disease. 
  • In Oklahoma, there are over 1300 people living with this disease.
  • In Tulsa, an estimated 550 people have sickle cell disease.
  • Each year there are three to five babies born.
  • There are 40,000 people in Oklahoma who carry the trait, who may be at risk for having a child with Sickle Cell Disease.  

Sickle Disease – Average prevalence per 100,000 live births by race/ethnicity


  • White                                     1.72
  • Black                                       289
  • Hispanic, total                       5.28
  • Hispanic, eastern                 89.8
  • Hispanic, western                3.14
  • Asian                                       7.61
  • Native American                    36.2


Symptoms Indicating Emergency Treatment is Needed:



101° F or higher


Severe headache or dizziness; Stiff neck


Pain or trouble breathing


Severe pain or swelling


Loss of normal skin color, very pale or gray


Painful erection


Seizures; Weakness or paralysis (can’t move arm or legs); Can’t wake up


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