In the FEBRUARY 2018 ARTICLE I concluded by saying, “SCD is always about the genetic matrix which is sometimes overuled by divine miracles!” Well, it turns out HbF is one such miracle in SCD Management, in essence a real game changer!
Hemoglobin is a protein in your red blood cells that carries oxygen to your body’s organs and tissues and transports carbon dioxide from your organs and tissues back to your lungs. This is an essential “breathing” process for human survival.
During human gestation, the developing fetus also needs oxygen but in a “better form”. Whilst the mother will have normal haemoglobin (HbA), the developing baby will have fetal haemoglobin (HbF). Fetal red blood cells have a higher affinity for oxygen than maternal red blood cells. The result of this difference in oxygen affinity allows oxygen to be transferred effectively from maternal to fetal red blood cells.
HbF is the main oxygen transporting protein in the human fetus during the last 7 months of development in the uterus and persists in the newborn until they are roughly 6 months old. This is a normal natural pattern.
HbF is normally reduced to very low levels of less than 0.6% of the total HbA in adults. So technically, once a human being is above 1 year old, HbF production ceases and instead HbA kicks-in.
In some rare cases the HbF does not cease production after 6 months of the newborn’s life, it remains dominant well into adulthood in high levels such as above 10% when ordinarily it should be a low of 0.6%
That is a remarkable difference and a mystery that the genetic makeup is altered to preserve human life referred to medically as the HEREDITARY PERSISTENCE OF FETAL HAEMOGLOBIN.
SCD Warriors have sickle haemoglobin (HbS) in varying levels, some neglible while others extremely high. This inhibits oxygen levels thereby causing their painful crises in varying levels depending again on the HbS level unique to each. However, in some fortunate individuals this limitation is overcome because of HbF and sickle cell trait (SCT) characteristics highlighted in the NOVEMBER 2017 ARTICLE
HbF causes the SCD to be less severe by preventing the sickling of the red blood cells. On the other hand, persons with SCT have approximately 40% HbS while the remaining 60% is HbA. The HbA also prevents the sickling of red blood cells similar to HbF.
The HbF phenomenon has also been scientifically manipulated to create drugs that artificially recreate this pre-toddler process using medical drugs such as HYDROXYUREA. Even though you were not born with the unique lifelong HbF its production is activated in the bone marrow by the presence of this drug in your system.
Natural or Artificial, the benefits and outcome are similar. Longevity for SCD Warriors.
Now, the next time someone tells you about scientific facts, remind them the Easter Story! Exceptions!
Yet another myth debunked!