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What is sickle cell disease (SCD)?

Sickle Cell illustration

SCD is a blood disorder passed on from parents to children. It’s caused by abnormal hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein in your red blood cells. Healthy red blood cells are round and flexible. They move through small blood vessels and bring oxygen to all parts of your body. With SCD, your red blood cells are crescent shaped, hard and sticky. They get stuck in your blood vessels and clog them. This can cause pain, infection, low blood count, strokes and other serious health problems.

Click on a topic to learn more
How are SCD symptoms treated?
Can SCD be cured?
Support for you and your family
Sickle Cell Disease booth in a box
Our partners
Sickle Cell Disease and Transplant Brochure (PDF)

How are SCD symptoms treated?

There is no “best treatment” for everyone with SCD. SCD affects each person differently. Hydroxyurea is a treatment option for many people with SCD. It’s a pill that can reduce the number of pain crises, but it doesn’t make SCD go away. 

Other options to reduce SCD symptoms include:

  • Pain medicine
  • Blood transfusions
  • Medicines to prevent blood clots
  • Antibiotics

These treatments will not cure the disease, but they may help you feel better.

Can SCD be cured?

A blood or marrow transplant (BMT) is the only known cure for SCD. BMT is not surgery. It’s a treatment that takes healthy blood-forming stem cells  from a donor and gives them to you through an intravenous (IV) infusion to replace the unhealthy cells.

Constance, patient

Constance, transplant recipient for SCD
Sickle cell disease and transplant, in my own words (PDF)

Who can get a BMT?

  • Children and teens with severe SCD may be able to get a BMT. If they have a brother or sister who matches them and can be their donor, they can get a BMT at some hospitals. Otherwise, they may be able to get a BMT if they join a clinical trial
  • Currently, adults with severe SCD are only able to get a BMT if they join a clinical trial.

Doctors and researchers are also studying a new treatment called gene therapy to see if it can cure SCD. Gene therapy could be an option if you have severe SCD and don’t have a matched donor. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment option for you and your loved one.

Need help finding a clinical trial?
: 1 (888) 814-8610 

Support for you and your family

Find sickle cell disease resources for you and your family. Contact our Patient Support Center.

Bilan Jama Patient Navigator

Bilan Jama, MSW, OPN-CG BMT, Patient Navigator

Call or Text: 1 (888) 999-6743
Request a connection with someone who's had a transplant for SCD
Learn about financial grants
Sickle cell disease and transplant (PDF)

SCD Booth in a Box

Booth In a Box

The SCD Booth in a Box is a free toolkit that can be used at community health fairs, conferences and other events. It includes educational resources and giveaways to help patients and loved ones learn about BMT for SCD.

The Booth in a Box contains:

  1. SCD and transplant education materials
  2. SCD patient support resources
  3. Free lip balm and reusable tote bags
  4. Tablecloth and display banners
  5. Instructions to set up the display and prepaid return labels
*We also offer a SCD Resource Box, which excludes items that need to be mailed back such as the tablecloth and banners.

Request a FREE Sickle Cell Disease booth in a box today!

Our partners

Be The Match is proud to partner with these organizations who support patients with SCD.