SUE FORD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SUE FORD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Doctor using a stethoscope to examine a young Jamaican boy suffering from sickle cell disease. Sickle cell disease (drepanocytosis) is a hereditary blood disorder that affects black people. It results from the production of abnormal haemoglobin (Hbs) in red blood cells. Hbs becomes insoluble when the blood is deprived of oxygen and precipitates, forming elongated crystals that distort the red cells (normally biconcave discs) into sickle shapes. Sickle cells are rapidly removed from the circulation, causing anaemia. People suffering from sickle cell disease become resistant to the serious form of malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum.
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