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Miles Davis And The Battle Against Sickle Cell Disease

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What Is Sickle Cell Disease?

June 19 is known worldwide as World Sickle Cell Day. Sickle Cell Disease is an inherited blood disorder in which the majority of hemoglobin within red blood cells is a defective form referred to as “S,” instead of the normal hemoglobin, “A.” Due to the presence of hemoglobin S, red blood cells become crescent or sickle-shaped, giving Sickle Cell Disease its name. The sickle-shaped blood cells cannot easily pass through blood vessels, causing those with the disease to experience a number of unique health complications.

There are different types of Sickle Cell Disease depending upon which hemoglobin genes are inherited. The blood disorder is also commonly known as Sickle Cell Anemia. In the case where a hemoglobin A and a hemoglobin S gene are inherited from each parent, the person is just a carrier of the Sickle Cell Trait and does not have Sickle Cell Disease. In order get Sickle Cell Disease, a person has to inherit the defective hemoglobin S gene, along with another defective hemoglobin gene, such as hemoglobin S, hemoglobin C, or hemoglobin beta thalassemia. Sickle Cell Disease affects over 100,000 people throughout the United States. Although people of all ages and backgrounds can inherit Sickle Cell Disease, the majority of people affected by the disease are African-American.

Miles Davis: Disease Leads to ‘Silent Period’ for Famous Musician

Miles Davis, a well-known African-American cool jazz musician from the mid-20th century, was born with Sickle Cell Disease. Along with being physically fatigued from excessive drug use and constantly performing, the trumpeter’s Sickle Cell Anemia caused him to have health issues that worsened over the course of his life. His condition caused him to go into a period of retirement during the 1960s where he stopped playing jazz altogether, historically known throughout the music community as his “silent period” or “lost years.”

Sickle Cell Anemia can cause brittleness of the bones. The disease caused Miles Davis to have an ongoing problem with bones chipping in his wrists and hips. This bone density issue kept him in immense pain throughout his career that had to be addressed with a number of intensive hip surgeries. When Miles Davis got into a terrible car accident in 1972, his bone condition worsened. The presence of Sickle Cell Anemia made it incredibly difficult for his hipbones to recover properly. Despite the constant pain from his bone issues, Miles Davis slowly got back into performing and was able to manage living with Sickle Cell Disease.

June 19: A Day to Raise Awareness Around the World

World Sickle Cell Day was established through the United Nations by countries worldwide to raise awareness about Sickle Cell Disease. The World Sickle Cell Day website explains that Sickle Cell is the most common genetic disease seen around the world and that most victims who inherit the congenital blood disease die before the age of 5. The United Nations has made it a public health priority to do everything in its power to win the global battle against the deadly effects of the disease. Efforts are being made to increase research and education, as well as improve medical training programs and provide better treatment options. African-American and other affected communities are doing what they can to alleviate the devastation of Sickle Cell Disease. Visit Sicklecellsociety.org today to make a donation and learn more about what you can do to help lessen the pain of Sickle Cell Disease.

Thank you to American Harbor College for additional information. Please visit their website to learn more about becoming a phlebotomist.

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