Sample Research Paper on Sickle Cell Anemia

Sickle cell anemia refers to a blood disorder that is inherited and mainly affects the red blood cells of a person (Bjorklund 12). The normal red blood cells are round and they transport oxygen to all parts of the body through the small blood vessels. Sickle cell attacks the red blood cell and make it sticky, stiff and C-shaped, hence the name sickle. The sickle cells transfer their short life span to the red blood cells making them die and cause regular shortage of red blood cells in the blood. The affected red blood cells also stick to the blood vessels and may lead to clogging to these vessels. A clogged blood vessel leads to much pain felt by the person and health problems like stroke and acute chest syndrome become regular problems.

History of Sickle Cell

1910 is usually regarded as the year when the sickle cell was discovered. However, this may not be the case because the disease existed in Africa around five thousand years ago and was discovered in the United States of America in 1910. A young American man called Walter clement from Grenada was the first person to be diagnosed with the symptoms of sickle cell (Bjorklund 28). He was a dentist student in Chicago.

He visited a doctor by the name of James Herrick complaining of episodes of pain and other symptoms associated with anemia, being a cardiologist, Herrick referred Clement to Dr. Ernest Iron who carried out a test of Cement’s blood and found out that they had the shape of a sickle (Peterson 7). From that, time many sickle cases were discovered and scientists have since then studied the mystery disease to have deeper understanding about the disease.

How Sickle Cell Is Inherited

For a person to have sickle cell disease, he must acquire the two genes for sickle cell from his parents. In case the person gets only one sickle cell gene and a normal gene from the parent then he would have the condition referred to as the sickle cell trait. This condition does not portray any of the symptoms or have the problems of sickle cell (Peterson 15). The person with this condition can also not transfer it to his children. When a person has sickle cell disease, the genes for sickle cell would control the production of hemoglobin in the red blood cells. The severity of the disease is affected by other factors and not changes in the sickle cell gene.

Symptoms of Sickle Cell
Anemia

Sickle cell makes the red blood cells to be very fragile and easily die and break. This leaves a person with less supply of red blood cells in the blood. The red blood cell whose lifespan is around 120 days is reduced to around 20 days for the sickle cells to die and would mean that they have to be replaced regularly. The constant shortage of red blood cells leads to anemia (Jones 76). The few remaining blood cells cannot supply enough oxygen to all parts of the body and the person becomes weak.

Periods of pain

Regular periods of pain referred to as ycrises are major problems with sickle cell patients. When the sticky and stiff sickle cells clog a blood vessel, they cause a lot of pain to an individual. The pain is usually felt in the joints, bones, abdomen, and chest of a person. The intensity of the pain may vary and the duration may be even weeks (Bjorklund 25). Some people would experience very few crises while others may go through a more than a dozen crises annually. When the crisis is to severe, a person may be forced to be under medical care either at home or in the hospital.

Hand-foot syndrome

Feet and hands of a person may swell during the early stages and are considered the initial signs of the disease. The swollen feet and hands are because of the clogged blood vessels by the sick cells. This clogging may prevent proper blood flow out of the person’s hands and feet.

Frequent infections

A person suffering from sickle cells would experience regular infections like spleen infection. Spleen is an organ in the body responsible for fighting infections and its infection makes a person more vulnerable to other forms of infections. Small children may be given antibiotics and vaccinations to prevent them from life-threatening infections, for example, pneumonia.

Delayed growth

The body needs enough nutrients and oxygen for a healthy growth (Jones 78). Infected red blood cells are not able to supply enough of nutrients and oxygen to the body and this slows growth in children and teenagers may even have delayed puberty.

Vision problems

In some cases, people suffering from sickle cell experience problems with their vision. This is because of the blood vessels that are responsible for supplying blood to the eyes are clogged (Jones 80). This is very dangerous as it may cause damage to the retina, which is responsible for processing visual images.

Treatment

The only cure for sickle cell anemia is bone marrow transplant, but finding a donor remains a problem and the procedure is so complex and one may even die during the process (Jones 88). This, therefore, means that sickle cell treatment is only aimed at lessening the periods of pain and preventing health complications. This is done through administering medication, blood transfusions, vaccination among children and stem cell transplant.

iWorks Cited

Bjorklund, Ruth. Sickle Cell Anemia. New York: Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, 2011. Print

Jones, Phill. Sickle Cell Disease. New York, NY: Chelsea House Publishers, 2008. Print.

Peterson, Judy M. Sickle Cell Anemia. New York: Rosen Pub, 2009. Print.