Ten years ago, a physically fit 23-yr-old white man of Greek ancestry flew from the United Kingdom to Cusco, Peru (11,000 ft. altitude), to trek to Machu Picchu. It was his first trip to a high altitude. After just an hour or two in Cusco, before he began trekking, he suffered a splenic infarction that led to splenectomy. Later, back in the United Kingdom, he learned he had sickle cell trait (SCT). The trekking company decided to offer screening for SCT to all potential high-altitude trekkers. Good idea.
We continue to learn ever more about SCT and the spleen. I cover it here. Also, we learn more about intriguing genes that play dual roles. I cover that too.