WHY DO MY
CELLS SICKLE?

ABRAHAM

Soccer fan, nurse, and actual Oxbryta patient

SICKLE CELL IS CAUSED BY A SICKLE GENE INSIDE RED BLOOD CELLS THAT IS INHERITED FROM BOTH PARENTS

With sickle cell, the hemoglobin in the red blood cell releases oxygen, causing it to clump together (polymerize)

Polymerization [po-ly-mer-i-za-tion] happens when the hemoglobin inside of red blood cells releases oxygen and clumps together to form long, stiff chains.
Polymerization causes sickling and can lead to a range of conditions from fatigue to pain crises.
and change into a sickle, or banana shape.

With sickle cell, the hemoglobin in the red blood cell releases oxygen, causing it to clump together (polymerize) and change into a sickle, or banana shape.

Healthy red blood cells

HEALTHY RED BLOOD CELLS

are flexible, can change shape easily, and can travel through blood vessels of any size.

Hemoglobin

HEMOGLOBIN

is a special protein inside red blood cells that helps carry oxygen throughout the body.

Sickled hemoglobin

POLYMERIZATION & SICKLING

occur when hemoglobin inside red blood cells clumps together and forms a sickle shape.

WHAT SICKLING CAN TRIGGER

Polymerization, which causes sickling, can cause other things to happen in the body, including 3 very serious consequences that may lead to long-term damage:

Consequences of polymerization
Consequences of polymerization
A

NEMIA:

When red blood cells break down, the body does not have the amount of healthy red blood cells that it needs. This is called anemia, and this type of anemia could result in the body not having enough oxygen. Over time, lack of oxygen can damage body tissue, organs, and joints.

H

EMOLYSIS:

Polymerization and sickling weaken red blood, cells causing them to break down (hemolysis).

V

ASO-OCCLUSIONS/PAIN CRISES:

Sickled cells can block blood flow. When a blood vessel is partially or completely blocked, a pain crisis may occur.

"My sickle cell is more than pain."

– MUYIWA

Actual Oxbryta patient

MUYIWA

Actual Oxbryta patient

SICKLE CELL IS A 365-DAY-A-YEAR CONDITION

When many people think about sickle cell, they only think about the painful crises that can put those living with sickle cell in the hospital. Many don't realize that sickle cell is more than that.

Sickle cell is a 365-day-a-year condition. That can mean living with day-to-day fatigue, yellow eyes from jaundice, and shortness of breath—all things you can easily feel and see.

But in addition, damage from sickle cell is always happening even if you don’t have pain crises or feel sick at all. Even when you feel fine, sickle cell may be causing damage. This damage can mean harm for many parts of your body.


WHAT ELSE CAN I DO TO BETTER MANAGE MY CONDITION?

Labs and screenings help you and your doctor to proactively manage your sickle cell.

They can show if you are becoming anemic, if your blood cells are making too few red blood cells, if the red blood cells are breaking down too quickly, or if there are any other changes happening in your body.

There are some basics that can help you manage your sickle cell successfully. Be sure to see your doctor regularly and establish an open dialogue so you can get the care you need.

LAKESHA

Actual Oxbryta patient

Knowing your numbers is important

Your doctor may check your lab reports for the following levels:

  • Hemoglobin
  • Red blood cells
  • Reticulocytes

Knowing your labs can tell you and your doctor if you have or are at risk for anemia or any other damage or complications from sickle cell.