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Sickle Cell Anemia

Sickle Cell `Life Partner`

03/08/2010

Question:

I am a sickle cell patient, who has been unhappy for a very long time and this makes my crisis occur frequently. I met this lady 2 years ago and we`ve been dating for a year. I think due to the relationship I have not had any crisis because of the joy she brings to me, only to find out her genotype is AS. I don`t know what to do, because I can`t imagine life without her. What do I do? Please, I am so confused.

Answer:

As you know, sickle cell anemia is a genetic disorder that affects the red blood cells – the cells of the blood that carry oxygen. In sickle cell anemia, the gene that produces hemoglobin (the part of the red blood cell that carries the oxygen) has been changed or mutated (hemoglobin S). This gene change or mutation causes the red blood cells to change shape –and makes it very difficult for the red blood cell to pass through tiny arteries and veins in the body. This causes the types of problems that you have experienced.

Sickle cell anemia is inherited in an autosomal recessive fashion. This means that both parents of a child with sickle cell anemia each carrier a gene coding for hemoglobin S. In your case, you inherited one mutation (change) from your mother and one from your father – so you have 2 genes coding for hemoglobin S or SS. If your partner is a sickle cell carrier (sometimes called sickle cell trait - AS) – you would have a 1 out of 2 (50%) chance of having a child who is a carrier (AS) like their mother and a 1 out of 2 (50%) chance of having a child who as sickle cell anemia (SS), like you. So you certainly are able to have children who do not have sickle cell anemia.

If you and your partner are thinking of having children, I would recommend that you talk to a genetic counselor or geneticist so that they can answer any questions you have about your chances to have children with SS or SA as well as what that means to you both. You can locate a genetics center near you at the National Society of Genetic Counselors’ Resource center website below.

Related Resources:

National Society of Genetic Cousnelors Resource Center

For more information:

Go to the Sickle Cell Anemia health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Anne   Matthews, RN, PhD Anne Matthews, RN, PhD
Associate Professor of Genetics
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University