About Sickle Cell Disease
Sickle cell disease (SCD) is one of the most prevalent genetic disorders, affecting approximately 100,000 people in the U.S. alone. SCD is a chronic condition causing substantial death and illness, with life expectancy for adults remaining stubbornly stagnant in the fifth decade of life. One of the most debilitating effects of SCD is vaso-occlusive crisis (VOC), where changes in a blood protein cause red blood cells to become rigid and stick inside small blood vessels. This causes blood flow blockages and results in excruciating pain and potential organ damage, which often requires urgent medical care and inpatient hospital stays. In the U.S., the estimated yearly average of emergency department visits and hospitalizations by patients with SCD is nearly 200,000 and over 100,000, respectively, with VOC cited as the reason in more than 75% of cases. Other medical problems can also occur during VOC, which often complicates treatment and leads to prolonged hospital stays.