Sickle cell disease is a genetic blood disorder that affects hemoglobin in red blood cells. Hemoglobin is a protein that carries oxygen to all parts of the body. Normal red blood cells are round and smooth.

In a child with sickle cell disease, red blood cells are hard, sticky and shaped like a crescent. Sickled red blood cells stick together and block blood vessels, causing complications and excruciating pain, such as:

  • Acute chest syndrome: Sudden damage to lung tissue is common in children with sickle cell disease.
  • Fever and infection: Even minor infections become a medical emergency for a child with sickle cell disease.
  • Nephropathy: When sickled red blood cells get trapped inside the blood vessels of the kidneys, they cause kidney damage.
  • Pain: Sickled red blood cells get stuck and block the flow of blood to parts of the body, such as bones, lungs, spleen, brain, eyes and kidneys, causing immense pain.
  • Stroke: A blockage or bleeding of the blood vessels can cause a loss of blood supply to parts of the brain, leading to a stroke.

The Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has the nation’s largest pediatric sickle cell disease program, caring for more than 2,000 unique sickle cell disease patients each year.

We provide comprehensive care with innovative therapies like blood and marrow transplants (BMTs) and transfusion therapy, right here in Georgia. Currently, not everyone is a match for BMT and gene therapy.

We believe in a future in which every child who is born with sickle cell disease is treated so that he or she is free of this painful and life-threatening condition. But we need your help. Your dollars will support our research to make this future a reality.

See How We’re Fighting Sickle Cell Disease