There are many types of blood disorders which doctors will treat in different ways depending on the type and severity of the disorder. Only some people with blood disorders will need a stem cell transplant.
Blood disorders can affect any part of your blood, including:
Some people with these blood disorders may eventually need a stem cell transplant:
If you have sickle cell disease it means you can’t carry oxygen around your body effectively. This is because your red blood cells are an abnormal shape (sickle) or crescent-shaped, instead of disc-shaped – so can’t transport as much oxygen as a normal cell. Sickle cell disease is genetic. To get the disease, both your parents need to have the sickle cell gene. If you get the gene from one parent, you will be a carrier, but won’t have any symptoms. The disease is much more common in people of African and Mediterranean descent. Thankfully, stem cell transplants can cure sickle cell disease. Find out more from The Sickle Cell Society.
If you have thalassaemia you have an abnormal type of haemoglobin – the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen. This destroys more of your red blood cells than normal, leading to anaemia, which can cause fatigue, headaches and concentration problems. Sometimes it can cause more serious symptoms like shortness of breath. Thalassemia is genetic. A bone marrow transplant can help treat some people with the disease, especially children.
If you have aplastic anaemia, your bone marrow doesn’t make enough blood cells, including red blood cells. This leads to anaemia, which can cause fatigue, headaches and concentration problems – alongside more serious issues. It’s a rare condition, but it can be life-threatening. Things like viral infections, medication and autoimmune conditions can cause aplastic anaemia. Other forms of aplastic anaemia are genetic. However, in many cases, doctors can’t tell what’s caused the disease. Treatment for aplastic anaemia can include blood transfusions and stem cell transplants. Find out more from The Aplastic Anaemia Trust.
There are different genetic disorders that can affect the blood and bone marrow. People inherit genetic disorders or diseases through their genes. They may be diagnosed when a baby is born or the disorder can develop later in life. They include mucopolysaccharide and related diseases (MPS), Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome (this is what Anthony Nolan had), severe combined Immunodeficiency and chronic granulomatous disease. Sometimes people with these conditions will need a stem cell transplant. The charity Genetic Disorders UK have information about these conditions and also offer support to patients and their families.