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Haemoglobin is something which is found in red blood cells. It is responsible for the colour of the cell and for carrying oxygen around the body. Sickle Cell Anaemia is a condition where some of the red blood cells inside the body turn into a sickle shapes because the haemoglobin inside them is a bit different.

What causes Sickle Cell Anaemia?

Sickle Cell Anaemia is something you’re born with, like the colour of your eyes, and it can’t be caught like a cold. It happens when a child gets a special type of gene from their mum and dad.

What does this mean?

People with Sickle Cell Anaemia have a special type of haemoglobin in their blood, which means that their red blood cells are shaped like crescents or sickles instead of being round shaped, like a doughnut. These sickle-shaped cells find it difficult to move through the tiny blood tubes which are found in the body. This can then block blood flow and stop oxygen from getting to where it’s needed. Because of this, people with Sickle Cell Anaemia can have more health problems, like trouble with their heart and lungs, and other important parts of their body.

What is it like for siblings if their brother or sister has Sickle Cell Anaemia?

Siblings can feel protective of their brothers and sisters who have Sickle Cell Anaemia.  It can mean that their brother or sister has time away from school for appointments or has to spend time in hospital for tests and procedures. Family plans or activities might have to be changed or cancelled at the last minute which can leave siblings feeling disappointed, angry, upset, or left out.

What treatment is there?

Doctors help people with Sickle Cell Anaemia by using medicines like Hydroxyurea. Sometimes, doctors can use a special treatment called a bone marrow transplant to try and cure Sickle Cell Anaemia, but this is only suitable for some people and there needs to be a perfect match. Scientists are also working on new ways to help everyone with Sickle Cell Anaemia feel better in the future.


This information has been read and approved by the Dreamsickle Kids Foundation May 2024