Sickle cell anemia is a hereditary blood disease. If one of your parents carries hemoglobin S, then you have a good chance of having the trait too.

Sickle Cell Trait

    The trait for sickle cell disease is hemoglobin S.  Click here to go to the tab that explains what hemoglobin S is.  Having the trait doesn't necessarily mean you have the disease.  Your blood cells are still normal shaped, and can hold the amount of oxygen that is usually carried. But, if you have a child, they have an increased chance of getting sickle cell disease or the sickle trait.
This picture shows how, if each parent carries the trait, their child has a 1 in 4 chance of having the disease. Black stands for hemoglobin S and white is hemoglobin A.

Sickle Cell Disease

    Having the disease means that both alleles are hemoglobin S. A parent's genotype can effect your genotype as a person with sickle cell anemia. Homozygous hemoglobin S genotype causes red blood cells to contain hemoglobin S instead of hemoglobin A.  The cells then become sickled and cause damage to the body.  See the chart above.