ALEX BARTEL / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ALEX BARTEL / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
A patient suffering from sickle cell anaemia. This is an inherited blood disease that occurs primarily in black people and more sporadically in the Mediterranean populations. It is caused by an abnormal type of haemoglobin, known as haemoglobin S, carried by some red blood cells. The red blood cells affected have a sickled shape, are more fragile and easily destroyed, leading to a chronic haemolytic anaemia. The sickled cells also tend to form clots. This obstructs the normal blood flow in the smaller blood vessels leading to the infarction (death) of tissue in lower and upper limbs.
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