Sickle cell anemia is an inherited type of anemia, much more common in particular ethnic groups. In the United States, it is most prevalent among African Americans (about one in 12 carries a sickle cell gene), but it is also found in Hispanic Americans from Central and South America. Modern science has made it possible for couples to be genetically tested before they conceive and for women to be tested during early pregnancy so that they can have options and make decisions about expanding their family based on hard facts.
Unfortunately, some parents are denied their right to these options because of negligent healthcare professionals. If your obstetrician did not recommend genetic counseling or genetic testing, or your counseling or testing professionals failed to provide you with correct results and you are now the parent of a baby or child with sickle cell anemia, you are entitled to legal recourse for wrongful birth. If you are in New Jersey, you should contact the offices of Nagel Rice LLP. Our team has the sharp courtroom skills to win you the damages you are entitled to so that you will have substantial resources to provide your child with the best medical care available.
What exactly is sickle cell anemia?
Sickle cell anemia, also called sickle cell disease, is an inherited form of anemia. In individuals with the condition, there are too few healthy red blood cells to supply adequate oxygen to all areas of the body. While normal red blood cells are flexible and round, enabling them to move easily through the blood vessels, red blood cells in sickle cell patients are rigid and sticky and are shaped like sickles (crescents). The texture and shape of these blood cells causes them to slow the flow of blood by getting stuck in blood vessels. This has disastrous consequences.
There is no cure for sickle cell anemia, though your child can be treated symptomatically. The terrible truth is that the national median life expectancy of an individual with sickle cell disease is only 42 to 47 years of age.
The Myriad Symptoms of Sickle Cell Anemia
Although most cases of sickle cell disease are diagnosed at birth through blood tests, some individuals don’t show symptoms until later in life. Symptoms vary from one patient to another and may change over time, but they include:
- Anemia — a shortage of red blood cells, depriving the body of oxygen, causing extreme fatigue
- Episodes of intense pain — crises during which blood flow to the chest, abdomen, joints or bones is blocked causing terrible pain
- Painful swelling of hands and feet — caused by blocked blood flow to the hands and feet
- Frequent, sometimes life-threatening infections, resulting from damage to the spleen, which is an important part of the immune system
- Delayed growth and delayed puberty
- Vision problems — caused by blockage of blood flow to the retina
- Stroke — a blood clot in the brain signalled by one-sided paralysis, numbness, severe headache, confusion, and/or interrupted mobility
As if these symptoms of sickle cell anemia are not troubling enough, individuals with this disease often suffer further complications, such as pulmonary hypertension, damage to the kidneys or liver, blindness, leg ulcers, gallstones, or priapism.
How Sickle Cell Anemia Is Inherited
Genetics is a complicated business, only parts of which have been fully mapped by geneticists. It is known, however, that the sickle cell gene passes from generation to generation in a pattern known as “autosomal recessive” inheritance. What this means is that both the mother and the father must pass on the defective form of the gene for their child to be affected.
However, as noted earlier, among some populations a relatively large percentage of people carries the recessive gene for sickle cell disease. This makes the risk factor for couples in which both individuals are African American, for example, fairly high. If both parents carry the recessive gene for the disease, the chances of the couple producing a child with the illness are one in four.
It is important to investigate the sickle cell gene in the parents because even if only one parent passes the sickle cell gene to the child, that child will still possess the sickle cell trait. Although a person with only a single defective gene is unlikely to have disease symptoms, such an individual should be aware that he or she is a carrier of the disease, able to pass along the damaged gene to offspring.
Damages Nagel Rice May Be Able To Obtain on Your Behalf
Our attorneys are not only sharp and legally knowledgeable, they are sympathetic to the overwhelming nature of your plight. They will fight tenaciously to win you every bit of economic and non-economic compensation you deserve.
Economic damages will reimburse you for actual monetary amounts, including:
- Medical and therapeutic care for your child
- Income you have lost and will lose while caring for your sick child
- Special educational costs to help your child keep up with his/her peers
Non-economic damages will provide you with compensation for intangible wrongs that can never really be righted, such as your child’s:
- Physical pain and emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment
- Shortened lifespan
Contact Our Sickle Cell Anemia Birth Injury Attorneys
Our talented wrongful birth attorneys are eager to help you receive justice. If your doctor never referred you for genetic counseling or testing, or failed to pick up signs of a problem on your sonogram, that professional failed to live up to the reasonable standards of care in his or her profession and, as a result, caused you, and in this case your child, personal injury.
The highly competent attorneys at Nagel Rice know only too well how overwhelmed and conflicted parents bringing wrongful birth cases feel. How can the birth of a child you cherish be “wrongful”? Nonetheless, as your dedicated medical malpractice attorneys, we are fully aware of how much money you will need. Therefore, we are determined to fight to win appropriate damages for you and your family. Your child will need medical care throughout his or her lifetime. The road your child and the rest of your family will travel will be a rough one. Why not contact us soon so that begin the process of working diligently to make sure that your future is well-funded.