Sickle cell anemia is a lifelong condition with symptoms and complications that vary considerably from person to person and from one period of life to another in the same person. Currently, hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is the only effective method of treatment, but it is available to a small minority of people, due in part to the lack of suitable donors.
In babies with sickle cell anemia, serious health complications can occur within months of birth, such as life-threatening infections, vaso-occlusive crises, etc., for which it is essential to seek care from specialized medical teams. Parents of these babies need to be educated to anticipate these complications so that appropriate measures can be taken quickly to ensure the safety and optimal development of their children. Early adolescence is the best time for these patients to learn in detail about the nature of their own condition, so that they can know how to maintain their health and how to respond to the disease themselves. Passing on this knowledge is crucial, in addition to keeping their regular clinical appointments. Adolescents and young adults face a number of challenges as the person with sickle cell disease becomes more independent under academic and work pressures. It is essential for these individuals to have healthy self-esteem and to motivate themselves to stay healthy. Aging inevitably brings concerns because, in addition to the normal wear and tear process, sickle cell disease can cause premature organ damage. To address these concerns, recent research in this area must be supported by the services of specialized teams. During these critical stages of life, people with sickle cell disease have physical and psychosocial needs that are distinct from those of people without the disease. These patients require comprehensive care in specialized medical centers that are truly able to meet their unique needs.