What is Sickle Cell Disorder (SCD)?

SCD is a disorder of the haemoglobin in the red blood cells and currently affects around 15,000 people in the UK.

The main symptoms of SCD are anaemia and episodes of severe pain. The pain occurs when the cells change shape after oxygen has been released (hence the ‘sickle’ name). The red blood cells then stick together, causing blockages in the small blood vessels.

These painful episodes are referred to as sickle cell crisis. They are treated with strong painkillers such as morphine to control the pain.

People with sickle cell are at risk of complications stroke, acute chest syndrome, blindness, bone damage and priapism.

Treatment of sickle cell mostly focuses on preventing and treating complications.

Some sickle cell facts:

  • 1 in 76 babies born in the UK carry the sickle cell trait
  • SCD is inherited from both parents; sickle cell trait is inherited from one parent
  • People with SCD are born with the condition, it is not contagious
  • SCD can affect anyone, although it predominately affects people from African and Caribbean backgrounds
  • A simple blood test will tell whether you have sickle cell trait or the disorder

If you have SCD, please contact the Student Wellbeing Inclusivity Service to register with their Services and find out about support available or email include@essex.ac.uk