Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sickle Cell Trait

We’ve heard the stories about football players being tested for sickle cell disease after players died in Florida and Ohio. These players never knew they had sickle cell disease because they never showed any outward signs.

After strenuous exertion, extremes temperatures and dehydration, these players died. Some of their families were blamed for not telling coaches that they had this disease. The problem was that no one in their family knew they had sickle cell trait. They inherited only one (SC) cell from only one parent. With no outward signs, these carriers of SC genes went undetected.

After NCAA implemented testing athletes for sickle cell, there was uproar as the testing was called “targeted”. People who debated this testing of athletes were missing an important point. Testing for sickle cell is part of a solution not a problem.

As with my “white looking” niece, she was reluctantly tested and found to be a sickle cell trait carrier. I say “Information is power.” My niece now has the information to make informed decisions about marriage, family, and her health maintenance.

So, a person with sickle cell trait (a carrier of one SC gene) must be aware. Extremes in temperature, stresses on the body, infections and dehydration can be life threatening. Add another carrier, have a baby, and now you have a child with a life of suffering…….just ask me and my friends at