Sickle cell anemia is an inherited disorder of the hemoglobin, a protein in the red blood cells. Normal red blood cells are doughnut-shaped so they can squeeze through blood vessels to deliver oxygen throughout the body. Red sickle cells are hard, sticky and shaped like sickles. Since it's difficult for these hard and pointed red cells to circulate through the blood vessels properly, they clog the flow of oxygen. Complications of sickle cell disease include pain episodes; stroke; increased infections; leg ulcers; damage to the kidneys, lungs, bone, liver and central nervous system; jaundice; gallstone disease; blindness/visual impairment; delayed growth; anemia; and painful erections in men.
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