Sickle cell disorders affect between 12,500 and 15,000 in the UK and is an inherited condition which affects how oxygen is carried through the body by red blood cells. This can cause tissue and organ damage, and episodes of severe pain. Such episodes are known as a sickle cell crisis or a vaso-occlusive crisis which can last from a few minutes to several months. Patients often require hospital admission.
Sickle cell disorders are inherited from both parents. If only one parent has the gene, you have what's known as the sickle cell trait and won't usually experience symptoms. However, you'll be a carrier of sickle cell anaemia and may pass the gene on to your children.
It is most common in people of African or Caribbean descent, but it may also occur in people from an Indian, Pakistani, Middle Eastern or Eastern Mediterranean background. Due to its ethnic diversity, Brent has one of the highest rates of Sickle Cell Disorder in the country.