Fatal complication of sickle cell anemia in an immigrant patient rescued from the mediterranean sea

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The aim of this case report is to share with the forensic science community the experience of a rare complication of sickle cell anemia: acute chest syndrome. In October 2016, at the port of the city of Trapani (Sicily, Italy), the landing of an ONG “Médecins Sans Frontières” ship took place with 548 non-EU citizens and a corpse on board. The man, in the hours before his death, complained of severe chest pain and respiratory difficulties, and, despite of the therapeutic aids and resuscitation maneuvers, lastly died. The Public Prosecutor ordered that autopsy be executed on the corpse of the young Ghanaian, and it was to be supplemented by histological, toxicological, genetic investigations, and the dating of the biological age. The autoptic examination findings were indicative of bilateral bronchopneumonia, and were also confirmed by the histological findings, which identified a condition of massive adipose pulmonary embolism, due to the presence of extramedullary hematopoietic tissue, site of endovascular thrombosis secondary to hemolysis of sickle cells. The spleen appeared of small volume, with fibrotic phenomena. The predisposition to infections, thrombosis, extramedullary hematopoiesis are all complications of sickle cell anemia. The severe pulmonary condition characterized by vaso-occlusive findings and pulmonary inflammation with infiltrate, symptoms like fever, chest pain and severe systemic hypoxia allowed to ascribe the plausible cause of death as acute chest syndrome, a rare complication of sickle cell anemia. The peculiarity of this clinical case is also related to the methods of medical intervention (boat with non-governmental medical support for assistance to migrants).
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)E291-E294
Numero di pagine4
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2020

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