Here’s a fact that few people know: sickle cell disease (SCD) is the most common inherited blood disorder in the United States and affects millions of people worldwide.
Because they are round and flexible, normal blood cells move easily through your body. Healthy blood cells carry sufficient oxygen for a healthy life.
However, for those suffering with sickle cell disease, the blood cells are shaped like sickles—a crescent moon shape—and they are sticky.
These mutated blood cells can get stuck in small blood vessels and starve the body of life-giving oxygen. There is no cure for sickle cell disease, so the standard medical treatment is to relieve the intense pain that accompanies the disease.
Sometimes the pain from the disease is so debilitating that it prevents sickle cell patients from sustaining full-time competitive employment on a consistent and reliable basis.
When it will persist for at least 12 months, people in this situation may be eligible for monthly Social Security Disability benefits. If SCD affects you or someone you care about to the extent that they can’t work, you will want to read our article “Sickle Cell Anemia: How to Get Disability Benefits.”
September is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month. This month, people living with SCD and those who care for them or care about them come together to bring awareness to the disease and dispel the myths and stigmas surrounding it.
This month also focuses attention on the need for new treatments, more research about sickle cell disease, and the need to find a cure.
What can you do? There is a lot.
You are already taking the first step—learning something about the disease by reading this. You can also advocate with your elected officials to increase funding for SCD research. And you can donate blood.
The American Red Cross reminds us that, “a single patient who has sickle cell can require thousands of blood transfusions throughout their life.”
The Red Cross also advises that it is important for the Black community to donate blood because, “receiving blood from a donor with the same race or similar ethnicity often provides the best opportunity for a well-matched unit, resulting in a transfusion that is better for the patient.”
Please join us at Nash Disability Law in honoring National Sickle Cell Awareness Month by doing what we each can do to improve the lives of those with this disorder.