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What is a blood disorder?

'What are blood disorders?' video transcription

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Anthony Nolan saves the lives of people with blood cancers and disorders.
We match people willing to donate their stem cells, to people with blood
cancer and disorders, in need of a life saving transplant.
But what are blood disorders? And how do they happen?
Your blood is very important for keeping you fit and healthy.
It's made up of different types of cells, including
red blood cells, for carrying oxygen,
platelets to help blood clots, and white blood cells,
that fight infections.
These all start as stem cells,
which can turn into any type of blood cell, as they divide and mature.
When someone has a blood disorder, it's likely that there's a problem with this stage in the process.
And some of the cells in the blood can't do their jobs properly.
With blood disorders,
many of these of this problems occur, because of a faulty gene that was inherited at birth.
However, others can occur without an obvious reason.
There are lots of different blood disorders,
and they are treated in different ways, depending on their types and severity.
Only some people with blood disorders will need a stem cell transplant,
usually only if other treatments have been unsuccessful.
If you'd like more information, or support,
the Anthony Nolan's patient services team, is here for you.

Stem cells divide and mature into the different cell types that make up our blood. This includes red blood cells (for carrying oxygen), platelets (to help blood clot) and white blood cells (for fighting infections).

If you have a blood disorder, it’s likely that there is a problem with a stage in this process. This means that some of the cells in your blood cannot properly perform the job they are designed to do.

Many of these problems occur because of a faulty gene that was inherited at birth. However, others, such as myelodysplastic syndromes and autoimmune diseases, are not inherited and can occur without an obvious reason.

There are lots of different blood disorders and they are treated in different ways depending on their type and severity. A few of them can develop into blood cancers over time. Only some people with blood disorders will need a stem cell transplant – usually only if other treatments have been unsuccessful.

Blood disorder types

Some of the more common blood disorders that might need a stem cell transplant are listed below. Each section provides additional information and links to organisations that offer advice and support.

The What are my treatment options? section looks at other possible ways that your medical team may decide to treat your blood disorder – either before or instead of a stem cell transplant.

Anthony Nolan also supports the IMPACT partnership that co-ordinates clinical trials across the UK that focus on improving stem cell transplantation. See the IMPACT website for more details.

Information published: 12/02/21
Next review due: 12/02/24      

Related links

Preparing for a stem cell transplant

Having a stem cell or bone marrow transplant

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