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Sickle cell anaemia. Light micrograph of a blood smear showing normally rounded red blood cells that have become curved, elongated sickle-shaped cells. Sickle cell anaemia is an inherited blood disease largely affecting black people, in which the red blood cells contain abnormal haemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying pigment. In areas of deoxygenated blood the haemoglobin distorts the red blood cells into a sickle shape, causing bone ache and organ damage. The fragile sickle cells are easily destroyed in the bloodstream.
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