Sickle cell disease


What is sickle cell disease?

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited lifelong blood disorder that affects the shape of red blood cells. This disease affects people primarily of African and Hispanic descent.

Our red blood cells contain hemoglobin A, which carries oxygen to tissues in our body. In SCD, the hemoglobin found in red blood cells is different. It is called hemoglobin S. Red blood cells with hemoglobin S do not live as long as red blood cells with hemoglobin A. This means someone with hemoglobin S may not have enough red blood cells to bring oxygen and nutrients to the tissues in the body.

Hemoglobin S can cause the red blood cells to become crescent (sickle) shaped. When this happens, it becomes very difficult for red blood cells to make their way through small blood vessels and into tissues that need oxygen and nutrients. When tissues are unable to receive blood flow and nutrients, they can become damaged.

How common is sickle cell disease?

  • SCD affects approximately 100,000 Americans
  • SCD occurs in about 1 out of every 365 Black or African-American births
  • SCD occurs in about 1 out of every 16,300 Hispanic-American births

Questions regarding sickle cell disease?

You can reach the Accredo sickle cell disease care team, anytime, day or night, seven days a week, by phone or online.

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What are the symptoms of sickle cell disease?

Anemia (not enough healthy red blood cells)

  • Fatigue; pale skin, lips or nailbeds
  • Tiredness
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Swelling of the hands and feet that may be painful
  • The skin or white of the eyes may look yellow
  • Getting infections often

Symptoms of sickle cell crisis, when blood vessels to a part of the body are blocked by abnormally shaped red blood cells:

  • Pain: May start suddenly; could feel dull, stabbing, throbbing, or sharp
  • Shortness of breath and/or pain when breathing
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Headache or dizziness
  • Hallucinations
  • Painful erections in males
  • Difficulty moving parts of your body
  • Yellowish skin color

How is sickle cell disease diagnosed?

Infants and children with SCD are at risk of infection and other health problems, so early diagnosis and treatment are important.

SCD can be diagnosed before a baby is born, while it is still inside the mother’s body. This can be done by testing some of the amniotic fluid around the baby or testing a tiny piece of the placenta.

After birth, a simple blood test can find SCD. This test may be done as part of newborn screening tests (in the U.S.) or anytime after the baby goes home from the hospital.


Sickle Cell Disease

The following specialty medications are available at Accredo, a specialty pharmacy for sickle cell disease.

Medication Manufacturer
Endari® (L-glutamine oral powder) Emmaus Medical, Inc.
Lyfgenia™ (lovotibeglogene autotemcel) Bluebird Bio, Inc.
Oxbryta® (voxelotor) Global Blood Therapeutics

Financing Your Care

Financial assistance may be available to help with your medication costs, including manufacturer and community programs. Accredo specialists are available to help find a program that may work for you.

Community Financial Resources

HealthWell Foundation | 800-675-8416

Financial Guidance

Life-saving specialty medication can be expensive. Learn how the Accredo teams help individuals find ways to afford the medication they need to survive in this video.

Find Support

Sickle Cell Disease Organizations

There are many organizations that support research and advocacy for Sickle Cell Disease. See below for a few of those organizations.

Support Organizations

Government Organizations

Meet the Team

Accredo’s sickle cell disease care team is dedicated to serving you and we understand the complexity of your condition. Our specialty trained clinicians are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer any questions.

Why We Do It

Accredo supports patients with chronic and complex conditions and helps them live their best life. Watch our video to learn why we do what we do for our patients.

Why We Do It video transcript

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