The rapper Prodigy, from the hip hop group Mobb Deep, died today at age 42 while on tour in Las Vegas, according to TMZ. Although his exact cause of death has not been confirmed, his publicist announced that Prodigy, whose reeal name is Albert Johnson, was hospitalized a few days ago for complications caused by sickle cell anemia. Here are some possible life-threatening complications caused by this blood condition.

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"Prodigy was hospitalized a few days ago in Vegas after a Mobb Deep performance for complications caused by a sickle cell anemia crisis. As most of his fans know, Prodigy battled the disease since birth,” Prodigy’s publicist said, The Independent reported. “The exact causes of death have yet to be determined. We would like to thank everyone for respecting the family’s privacy at this time.”

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a group of hereditary red blood cell disorders. The disease gets its name from the half-moon “sickle” shape of the abnormal red blood cells, as compared to round healthy red blood cells. Sickle cell anemia is the most common and severe kind of SCD, The National Institute of Health reported.

With sickle cell anemia, there are not enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. The blood cells are also rigid and misshaped which makes them less able to flow correctly through the veins. As a result, the cells can become stuck in blood vessels. This can cause extreme pain for sickle cell patients. The disease has no cure, and is caused by inheriting two abnormal red blood cell genes, one from both parents. Because of its genetic component, the disease is almost completely restricted to individuals of African descent.

According to the Mayo Clinic, common symptoms of sickle cell anemia can include lack of energy and fatigue caused by not getting enough oxygen throughout the body. In addition, patients can have episodes of pain, called crises, caused by tiny red blood cell blockages in the blood flow. Blood blockage can also cause painful swelling of the hands and feet.


While sickle cell itself may not cause death, it can lead to a number of life-threatening complications. For example, sickle cell patients are at heightened risk for experiencing a stroke, due to the constant blockage of blood flow. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 10% of children with SCD will have a symptomatic stroke. Strokes can cause learning problems and lifelong disabilities.

Sickle cell patients are also at risk for acute chest syndrome, a condition caused by a lung infection due to sickle cells blocking blood vessels in the lungs. This condition has symptoms similar to pneumonia. Blood blockage in the lungs can also cause pulmonary hypertension, a serious condition that can lead to shortness of breath and death.

In addition, the SCD can also affect the eyes and eyesight. Blood blockage in the tiny veins in the eyes can permanently damage the retina, causing long-term visual problems. Over time, this damage can lead to blindness.

Unfortunately, the disease can also significantly compromise the body’s ability to fight off infection. This may put patients at increased risk of developing potentially life-threatening infections. For example, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, pneumonia is a leading cause of death for infants and young children with sickle cell. In addition, the condition also affects the body’s ability to heal itself, and patients can develop open sores called ulcers on their legs.

Sickle cells constantly deprives vital body parts of sufficient amounts of oxygens, which can damage nerves and organs. In particular, sickle cells can do serious damage to the spleen, with misshapen blood cells becoming trapped in the organ and leading to a condition called splenic sequestration. If left untreated this condition is life-threatening.

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