Health Ministry Updates

In an effort to keep the Metropolitan family informed, well and aggressive about their health, the Health Ministry presents detailed facts about newborn screening, prostate cancer and sickle cell anemia on the church website.

Sickle Cell Anemia

What is “Sickle Cell Trait”?
Sickle Cell Trait is an inherited condition which affects the red cells of the blood. When this condition is present, some of the red cells, which normally are round in shape, become distorted in shape or sickled.

The disease is a defect in the hemoglobin (coloring matter of the red corpuscles of the blood). The presence of this defective or abnormal hemoglobin is capable of causing distortion (sickling) of the red blood cells and a decrease in the number of these corpuscles.

Who has the condition?
Sickle Cell Trait is found mainly but not exclusively in members of the Black race. Sickled red cells have been found in one out of every twelve African Americans. However, the active disease occurs about once in 600 African Americans and once in every 1200 American whites. It is estimated that approximately 50,000 persons in the United States suffer from the disease.

How is the Sickle Cell Trait inherited?
This disease occurs as a result of the mating of two persons each of whom carries the gene for the sickling trait (no symptom). If the child inherits this gene from each parent, the presence of a double dose in the child will result in sickle cell anemia.

If only one parent (the one in twelve) has red blood cells which sickle, then the children will have either sickle cell trait or normal red blood cells.

How is Sickle Cell Trait detected?
Although this is an inherited disease, it does not usually manifest itself at birth. In most instances the first symptoms appear at about 6 months of age and occasionally earlier.

Sickling may be detected by different methods. The currently preferred routine method is by cellulose acetate electrophoresis together with the solubility (or turbidity) test on blood samples.

The blood of the patient must be studied microscopically and electrophoretically in order to definitely diagnose this disease. The number of red cells found and the amount of hemoglobin they contain is usually decreased and the characteristic sickled red cells will be seen under the microscope.

How is the disease treated?
This is a chronic disease and medical management should be directed toward both the quiescent and active period of this malady. Usually no treatment is needed. Occasionally, it may be required for a complication such as spontaneous bleeding from a kidney. Hospitalization is sometimes necessary for diagnostic studies, treatment of severe infections, crises, complications or surgical operations.