Sickle Cell Disease

What is sickle cell disease?

Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder in which red blood cells can become stiff, sticky and often shaped like the letter C. Normal red blood cells are smooth and flexible, like the letter O, and can move easily through blood vessels. But sickle cells tend to cluster together. These clusters can create blockages in your child's small blood vessels, stopping the movement of healthy, oxygen-carrying blood. These blockages can lead to sudden pain anywhere in the body, as well as damage to the body tissues and organs over time. The altered structure of the red blood cell also causes it to break down more rapidly, leading to a chronically low blood count, or anemia.

Sickle cell disease primarily affects children of African descent and Hispanics of Caribbean ancestry. It also occurs in children of Middle-Eastern and Indian descent.

Our approach to sickle cell disease at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's

Dana-Farber/Boston Children's is an international leader in improving treatment and quality of life for children with sickle cell disease. Our Sickle Cell Disease Program provides children with sickle cell disease access to world-renown pediatric hematologists, top-rated nursing care, and the latest treatment options including hydroxyurea and stem cell transplantation.

The Dana-Farber/Boston Children's website provides in-depth information on sickle cell disease, including:

  • Sickle cell disease diagnosis
  • Sickle cell disease management and treatment
  • Latest sickle cell disease research
  • Long-term outlook for children with sickle cell disease