About Us

Oval shaped, Haemoglobin is the important molecule carried in red blood cells delivering vital oxygen to cells and organs in our bodies. Sickle cell and thalassemia disorders have haemoglobin S molecules and cause red blood cells to form sickle, or crescent, shape, hence the name.

Cell Disdorder Example

The sickling of red blood cells has many life threatening and debilitating side effects, as they break down prematurely, which can lead to excessive anaemia. The sickle shape makes it difficult for oxygen to replenish cells causing shortness of breath, fatigue, and delayed growth and development in children.

The rapid breakdown of red blood cells may also cause yellowing of the eyes and skin, which are signs of jaundice. Painful episodes can occur when sickled red blood cells, which are stiff and inflexible, get stuck in small blood vessels. As these reoccurring episodes deprive tissues and organs of oxygen-rich blood the impact on organ damage, especially in the lungs, kidneys, spleen, and brain is increased and unfortunately common amongst many sufferers.

A particularly serious complication of sickle cell disease is high blood pressure in the blood vessels that supply the lungs (pulmonary hypertension). Pulmonary hypertension occurs in about one-third of adults with sickle cell disease and can lead to heart failure.

Signs and symptoms of sickle cell disease usually begin in early childhood. Characteristic features of this disorder include a low number of red blood cells (anaemia), repeated infections, and periodic episodes of pain. The severity of symptoms varies from person to person. Some people have mild symptoms, while others are frequently hospitalized for more serious complications.

Sickle cell is dominant amongst Africans and the diaspora, IE Afro-Caribbean, African American etc. Thalassemia occurs frequently in Asian, Mediterranean and Arabic people. Screening in early pregnancy is an essential component of good quality maternity care, and a fundamental entitlement for the mother and her unborn baby.

This commitment covers three different screening programs

  • Antenatal screening for Thalassaemia

  • Antenatal screening for Sickle Cell

  • Neonatal screening for Sickle Cell

sickle cell trait

We believe we can all make a difference by building strong partnerships with those affected by Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Disease, their families, Support Groups, Schools, organisations, and health care providers.

“Is inherited when one parent passes on the sickle gene. The trait carrier will never develop into sickle cell disorder”.

In the UK, Sickle cell trait is found in 1 in 4 West African and 1 in 10 Afro-Caribbean, and is also found in people who originate from the Mediterranean, Asia and the Middle East. It is less common in white European’s, although with the ever growing diversity of the population this will change.

Most people who have sickle cell trait are healthy and do not have the symptoms as they carry a majority of red round shaped cells however some sickle shaped cells may be present under certain conditions and will need to safeguard against anaesthetics that may cause side effects Always notify your dentist or doctor before treatment commences to be on the safe side.

Other factors to consider are experiencing pain at high altitudes (generally above 10,000 feet), including long-haul flying in unpressurised planes and mountain climbing.

It is important you say you have sickle cell trait before undertaking such activities as you may need to breathe oxygen. Extreme exercise may also precipitate problems and if you are a professional athlete you should have a training programme that takes account of this.

The trait is not an illness, but if you are planning to have children, then certain factors have to be considered and to seek medical advice and screening from your GP.

  • Antenatal screening for Sickle Cell
  • Antenatal screening for Thalassaemia
  • Neonatal screening for Sickle Cell


Screening in the early years

Screening all pregnant women early in pregnancy within ten weeks identifies parents to be who have the trait (also known as a carrier). If the mother is identified with the trait, the baby’s father is offered a screening test.

Screening in early pregnancy is an essential component of good quality maternity care, this commitment covers
three different screening programs:

If your partner does not have sickle cell trait, then any children you have will not have sickle cell disorder, but they could have the trait (50% chance)

Newborn babies as part of the newborn bloodspot (heel prick test) are given when your baby is five days old to screen for sickle cell disease to prevent serious infections and provide treatment and appropriate health care plan.

Newborn screening also detects babies who have the trait (also known as a carrier) for sickle cell disease.