Sickle cell anemia is a disease passed down from parent to child. That is to say it is a genetic condition. Sickle cell anemia is a disease of the red blood cells. Red blood cells are typically disc shaped and look like a doughnut without the hole in the middle. This shape allows them to move through the arteries easily. Red blood cells contain the bodies hemoglobin which transports the bodies oxygen.
In sickle cell anemia, red blood cells are sickle shaped due to abnormal hemoglobin. The sickle shape prevents the cells from moving smoothly through the arteries. The cells also tend to be sticky and this causes them to clump together. When the cell clump together, they can form clots that block the flow of blood throughout the body. Blocked vessels can cause pain, infections, and organ damage.