Advanced Stem Cell Transplant Program May Cure Thalassemias

Thalassemias are inherited blood disorders that affect the body’s ability to produce hemoglobin and red blood cells. The type and severity of your thalassemia as well as your age, overall health and preferences will determine treatment.

If you have a minor case of this condition, you may not require any treatment. However, if your thalassemia is moderate to severe, the following viable treatment options may be recommended:

  • Blood transfusions: Blood transfusions can be effective in replenishing your hemoglobin and red blood cell levels. You may need between eight to twelve transfusions each year.
  • Iron chelation: Since blood transfusions may lead to iron overload, iron chelation may be necessary. This procedure involves removing excess iron from your bloodstream to ensure that it does not damage your organs.

At University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center, we may also recommend a stem cell transplant to treat your thalassemia. A stem cell transplant is the only treatment at this time that may cure this condition. With a stem cell transplant for thalassemia, your abnormal stem cells are replaced with healthy ones from a donor. This treatment may actually eliminate your need for lifelong blood transfusions and iron chelation.

Our UH Seidman Cancer Center team has the experience and expertise to determine the best stem cell transplant donor for your needs and will help find the most suitable match. In the event that a family member or genetically matched donor cannot be found, we work with national registries to find an alternative donor, giving you the strongest chance for a successful transplant.

How to Improve Thalassemia Management

There are also a number of lifestyle changes we may recommend to help you manage your thalassemia and live a higher quality of life. Some of these recommendations include refraining from vitamins or supplements that contain iron, adhering to a nutrient-rich diet, taking folic acid supplements and washing hands frequently to reduce infection risk.