Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sickle Cell Charities For Children Help With Medical Care

By Marci Glover

There is a low level of healthy red blood cells in children who have sickle cell anemia. They are ill because these blood cells are not providing the necessary function of carrying oxygen to all body parts. Coping with this disease is difficult. Sickle cell charities for children help the victims and their families.

This disease cannot be cured, but, in most cases the pain can be reduced. The signs of the disorder show up after a baby is four months old. They include a pain crisis, fatigue, swollen feet and hands and visual problems due to damaged retinas.

Sometimes these symptoms are not diagnosed until later in childhood. When a child has severe abdominal pain or swelling, yellowish skin or eye color or symptoms of a stroke, it indicates an emergency situation. Look for paralysis on one side of the body or face because those are indications of a stroke.

The child will not be a sufferer if only one parent has the defective gene. Both parents must be afflicted before a child can inherit it. It can be passed from generation to generation, even when symptoms are not apparent.

This is true because not all the children with two parents who have the gene will show the symptoms although they do have the gene. In the case of two parents with the defect, there is a fifty-percent possibility of their baby being a carrier. Not all who are carriers become ill.

People from the Mediterranean, Africa, India or Central or South America are the ones who suffer this genetic disorder. The black and Hispanic individuals who have this abnormal gene are prone to serious symptoms. They can be fatal.

An infant or child can suffer a stroke due to the malfunction of the oxygen-carrying red blood cells. In the child with sickle cell, these cells are abnormally-shaped and few in number. There may be a sudden speech disorder, weak arms and legs and loss of consciousness.

If oxygen flow is obstructed, major problems in organ function can result. Excessive bilirubin can build up in the liver in some children. These organ functions are necessary for life to continue.

Major organs can shut down as a result of lack of sufficient blood flow. This deprives them of adequate oxygen. In many cases, a fatality will be the end result.

The child may go blind. This is due to the tiny blood vessels responsible for delivering oxygen to the eyes becoming obstructed. Vision is then lost over time. Gallstones are yet another disturbing possibility.

There is help for these children from well-known charities. Physicians specializing in hematology and specially trained nurses are devoted to providing medical care for them. A relatively new treatment that has been developed is stem-cell transplanting surgery.

One such charity has been involved in research into sickle cell for over fifty years. Research grants and donations from other sources are used to fund it. The parents and children are not charged for any of the care.

There is no cure for this genetic disorder. It can only be prevented. Potential parents from the ethnic groups affected can be tested to determine if they carry the gene. If both have this genetic defect, they can decide not to have babies who may live a life of illness and suffering.

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