sickle cell anemia (SIH-kul sel uh-NEE-mee-uh)listen
An inherited disease in which the red blood cells have an abnormal crescent shape, block small blood vessels, and do not last as long as normal red blood cells. Sickle cell anemia is caused by a mutation (change) in one of the genes for hemoglobin (the substance inside red blood cells that binds to oxygen and carries it from the lungs to the tissues). It is most common in people of West and Central African descent. Also called sickle cell disease.